Friday, September 28, 2012

Fermented Friday: Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Appetizers (part 2)

Fermented Friday: recipes featuring yeast, wine, beer or some form of fermentation.

What started out as a recipe for Tuesday's Twist has taken all week, thanks for your patience. After a third try I finally got the pictures to work.  Something is still a little goofy with the formatting, but at least I can see pictures instead of blank, invalid images.  I wasn't intending to use this recipe for a Fermented Friday, but such is life.  Technically speaking it does contain yeast and balsamic vinegar, both of which involve fermentation, so let's just go with that.

The Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Filling I posted on Tuesday was inspired by two recipes for stuffed tomatoes.  I wasn't in the mood to stuff and bake tomatoes, so I decided to play with won ton wrappers.  These thin sheets of dough are extremely versatile and perfect for bite-size appetizers.  The squares can be stuffed with a wide variety of fillings and then baked, fried, boiled or steamed.  I liked the idea of baking, but also tried making tortellini by boiling the filled pockets.  Since I'm playing with my food again, it's probably easier to just show you what I did (which is why I wanted to wait until my camera was working).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts: Anticipation

Thursday's Thoughts: a taste of what I'm thinking

Anticipation and excitement are a normal part of life.  Yet often times, the pessimist in me holds back, saying, don't get your hopes up, you'll just be disappointed.  This can lead to a boring, middle-of-the-road outlook that zaps the fun out of life.  On the other hand, it's good to look at a situation realistically rather than dreaming of idealistic extremes.

I think I associate disappointment with the same negative feelings I associate with failure and rejection. I don't want to get my hopes up and then be let down.  If I'm not expecting too much in the first place, then I won't be disappointed if it doesn't turn out.  And, if it does turn out, then I'll be pleasantly surprised.  It's almost as if I try to save the excitement until I'm sure it's valid.  But disappointment is a part of life, as are failure and rejection.  Rather than fear them or brace myself for their potential impact, I could accept, process and move on.

Blah, I really don't feel like over-analyzing this right now.  I somehow lost both my train of thought and motivation between here and the first paragraph.   Besides, I should probably think this through a little more before I go posting things online for others to read.  There are several ways I could go on this and I'm not quite sure what I think yet.  Anyway, I know there's a healthy balance out there between excited anticipation and the "yeah right" pessimistic attitude.  That's as deep as I'll go for now.

About the only thing I can remember not doing this with is snow days.  Growing up I would hope and hope and hope for snow days.  I remember excitedly listening to the radio and watching the school closings endlessly scroll across the bottom of the T.V. screen, just waiting for my school to be announced.  Being that our school was near the end of the alphabet, it would take forever and the anticipation would continue to build.  When the announcements finally came to the letter R, it was unbelievable how many other schools started with R as well.  Surely if they were all closed, ours would be too.  If our school was listed, it was utter excitement and then we would watch the listings once more to be sure and then again to celebrate.  If the cancellation was a 2-hour delay, the anticipation would continue and our eyes would remain glued to the screen, waiting for a full closing.

No matter how small the chance of snow, I always got my hopes up.  Probably because I knew the results were not dependent on me, my performance, or anything in my control.  If we still had school, it was a little disappointing, but it wasn't a huge let down.  The thought of a snow day was so exciting that the neighborhood kids would plot ways to create a snow day.  We lived right next to the department of transportation and fantasized climbing over the fence to unscrew the bolts on all the snow plows.  Without plows to clear the roads, we we wouldn't need as much snow to warrant a day off.  If that scheme failed, we planned to gather all the snow in town and pile it in the superintendent's driveway or just outside his window.  Of course this would trick him into thinking there had been a huge storm and he would then declare it a snow day.

Sorry to bring up the s word.  I should have left those stories for another time.  Don't worry, there are still plenty of beautiful fall days left and maybe even an Indian summer. I've been loving the weather these past few weeks, but that's another topic for another day.

Food for Thought: "The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it." -Proverbs 27:12

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Weird (Recipe-less) Wednesday: Random Pictures

Know what's weird?  My camera.  I found just enough time to re-photograph today's recipe before heading into work.  I thought my camera problems were solved, and all appeared to be going well.  The issues I had the first time didn't happen so I continued to snap away.  Yet once again, when I went to transfer the pictures they were blank.

I've been waiting the past few days for a new memory card to come in the mail.  It hadn't arrived yet so I used the card out of my old point and shoot.  Apparently it doesn't work that way.  The new card arrived in the mail  after I finished the second picture attempt, before I realized it didn't work, and moments before I left for work.  I haven't had time to open it yet, nor been home during daylight to try a third time.  By the time you read this I'll be back at work, but there's a chance I will get off while it's still light out and have time to use that new card.  No promises, but hopefully Friday you'll be able to see what I've been trying so hard to show you.

In the meantime, here are some random pictures that resurfaced from my point and shoot as I attempted to transfer those phantom photos.

 These first few are from a project I did in college.  I had to do the start-up planning and financial stuff as if I were going to start my own business.  Of course I picked something food related and went with a cookie business.  The pictures were for my display board, but I'll spare you the details of the business I am not planning to start.

 This little guy was IN my kale.  Wash your produce, snails do live in grocery store kale.

 Heirloom tomatoes from last summer.

 Sunrise or sunset (maybe both?) in Iowa.

I woke up extremely early one Saturday morning and couldn't sleep. I went out with my camera and found these.  Much better than sleeping in.

 That same summer there was a balloon festival in the town I lived in.  Hundreds of hot air balloons took off just a few miles from the apartment. I enjoyed watching them all week long.

 This is a really old one.  If you've never picked and eaten a strawberry straight from the field, you're missing out.
Food for Thought: "The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him" -Lamentations 3:24

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday's Twist: Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Filling (part 1)

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

I'm on the schedule to work a lot more this week.  I'll still be serving food or in the kitchen, but it will be at work, not here.  I'd love to tell you I'm way ahead of the game and got all the posts for this week done over the weekend, but I didn't.  After waking up around 3 A.M. Saturday morning to take my mom to the airport I suppose I could have stayed up and gotten a few things done.  I was home by 6:30 that morning but gave in and went back to sleep around 8.

I made this savory filling and then tested and photographed 5 different ways to use it.  When I went to transfer the pictures to my computer nearly all of them were black rectangles with red text reading "invalid image".  Not helpful.  I have a few hours of daylight before work to try it all again, so maybe you'll see pictures tomorrow.  Anyway, all that to say the posts for today and tomorrow are related. We'll make the filling today and I'll show you a few fun things you can do with it tomorrow (assuming I figure out what's up with my camera).  While this recipe stands on its own as a delicious dip or spread, we're going to use it soon as a filling for something a little more adventurous.

Oh, by the way, I "forgot" to mention this is one of those reoccurring tofu recipes I alluded to way back when Tofu Tuesday was discontinued.  Thankfully that tofu flavor is completely hidden by the tang of balsamic vinegar and citrus of fresh lemon.  Nutritional yeast and sun-dried tomatoes lend salty and savory notes that pair perfectly with the last of our summer basil.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Filling/Dip/Spread
inspired by Baked In and Running to the Kitchen


1 clove garlic
10 oz firm tofu*, drained and pressed
1 cup cooked white beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp freshly grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 sun-dried tomato halves (not oil-packed), chopped
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped

* After 15 minutes of pressing my tofu weighed 8 oz.  I used half of one box of the water-packed tofu from Trader Joe's with the hot pink label.  It doesn't specify a firmness level, but medium-firm or firm is my best guess.

* In a food processor pulse garlic clove until finely chopped. Add tofu and beans; process until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides if needed. Add nutritional yeast, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, lemon peel, salt and black pepper.  Process until combined.  Add sun-dried tomatoes and basil; pulse to incorporate. Refrigerate at least 1 hour to allow flavors to develop.  Serve as a vegetable dip or cracker spread. Also works well on sandwiches and tortillas. Stay tuned for ways to use in hot appetizers.

Update: See this post for some ways to use this filling.

Food for Thought: "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail . They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." -Lamentations 3:22-23

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mindful Monday: Early Morning Thoughts

Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here.

I woke up at 3:05 A.M. Saturday morning. On purpose. Actually, I woke up several times before that thinking I had missed my alarm and overslept- only to find out my ears and alarm were indeed still working, and I really was supposed to be asleep. Rats, don't you hate it when that happens? I mean, it's great that you're not late and can go back to sleep, but if you're going to keep waking up it kind of defeats the purpose of sleeping.  Annnnyway, I got up to drive my mom to the airport.

I am not a morning person.  At all.  As in, don't even think about talking to me first thing in the morning.  I need time to wake up.  It's pointless to ask me any questions after my first waking moments (err, hour?).  You likely won't get much of any response to anything, even if it's just a "good-morning" without a question attached.  I will try to acknowledge your existence, but that's it, sorry.

While it was technically 3 in the morning, it still felt like night to me.  I've become more of a night owl lately so I didn't feel all that tired.  I bet my mom has never heard such lively conversation cross my lips so soon after waking.  We had a nice chat on the way up to the airport and then it was me, coffee and the radio for the next hour and a half.  There really isn't anything good on the radio at that time night, morning, whatever.  I usually get super sleepy while driving, but I was hardly tired.  While I had no trouble staying awake, I wasn't exactly thinking deeply profound thoughts either.  I did, however, make one life observation relating to driving in the dark.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fermented Friday: Beer Pitas (with a beer bottle rolling pin)

Fermented Friday: recipes featuring yeast, wine, beer or some form of fermentation.

Today's innovative use of beer bottle turned rolling pin was inspired by my brother.  Over the summer he lived on his own and began to dabble in the kitchen.  I was super impressed with his initiative to make bread and cookies each weekend to have on hand for his lunch. I often received texts with baking questions such as, "what happens if I leave out the vanilla?" or "what was that trick you use so the honey doesn't stick to the spoon?"

One weekend he called me up just as I was about to start washing my car.  (How ironic is it that I was washing the car while he was in the kitchen?!?) After he helped me figure out which of the 12 bottles of car soap in our garage was okay for me to use, I walked him through a few options for a cookie recipe gone askew. The next question was something along the lines of "can I use margarine in place of shortening?"  Well, that depends on what your using it for.  Margarine is 80% fat and 20% water while shortening is 100% fat.  Long story short,  (wait, this isn't very short is it?) he was out of tortillas and decided to make his own! Seeing as I've never made my own tortillas, I wasn't quite sure how the substitution would work out and suggested he try it out but perhaps use a little less water.  It wasn't until later that I realized he didn't have a rolling pin.  Necessity is the mother of invention, especially when thinking like a typical college-age guy.  Who needs rolling pins when you have beer bottles?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts: Words

Thursday's Thoughts: a taste of what I'm thinking

I seem to be at a loss for words.  Let's learn some new ones and try not to lose those too.  You know I like random, so here goes...

1. tsukemono - Japanese-style pickled vegetables served with practically every meal, including breakfast

2. schadenfreude - enjoyment or entertainment acquired from another's misfortune

3. callaloo - Green leaves of the tarro root.  These edible leaves are often used in soup in the Caribbean islands. 

4. obnubilate - to make unclear or vague

5. syriniki - a Russian dish in which a mixture of pot cheese or farmer's cheese, eggs and flour are formed into cakes and fried.  Syrniki can be either sweet or savory.

6. forficate- deeply notched or forked

7. kipful - a crescent-shaped cookie or yeast pastry filled with nuts and brown sugar

8. haver - to waste time talking foolishly

9. mahleb- ground black-cherry pits used to flavor baked goods in the Middle East

10. flageolet- a small, tender French kidney bean having a creamy white to pale green color

Food for Thought: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts." -Winston Churchill  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Fruity Red Cabbage Smoothie

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Because some recipes are so weird I just HAVE to try them.  My curiosity always gets the better of me.

Red cabbage in a smoothie? How is the texture going to work on this one? Since I have leftover cabbage from this slaw, I decided it was the perfect time to satisfy my curiosity about this sneaky smoothie.

I wasn't expecting too much. Swallowing chunks of tough cabbage came to mind, but I proceeded anyway in the spirit of weird experimentation.  Boy was I ever wrong on this one! I just love it when something weird totally works.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Tuesday's Twist: Just a Slice

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

Many people consider cutting up fruit to be a chore.  I happen to find it quite enjoyable and relaxing.

Sometimes I get a little carried away.

And play with my food decide to slice it a bit differently than your typical fruit salad.

Because food should be fun.

Especially if it's the last slice of summer. 

Colors, angles, layers, shapes. Start with a slice of melon and make just a few more slices this way and that. Stack, slide or twist your salad into place. Basil and a drizzle of fresh lime juice can't hurt either. 

Food for Thought: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. " - Galatians 5:22 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mindful Monday: Resolve to Inquire

Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here.

I'm currently, albeit slowly, making my way through several books by Lysa Terkeurst. In her most recent book, Unglued, Lysa writes about the practical applications we can take from the Old Testament story of Jehoshaphat found in 2 Chronicles 20.  She describes how even the first few words of verse 3 are packed with wisdom.  "Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord...."  It would be easy for me to gloss over this phrase, but Lysa points out that when we are in an alarming or impossible situation we can resolve the problem by deciding to ask God about it. Alarmed, resolved, inquire. Those three action words can apply to many situations.

 Now, I'm sure I learned about Jehoshaphat in Sunday School, but I couldn't remember his exact situation any more readily than I could spell his name.  After reading what Lysa wrote, I went to read the story for myself. Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, is alarmed because he has just learned an army is about to attack and wipe them out.  Rather than repeating everything Lysa wrote, I'll post the verses below and underline the portions that stood out to me.  Of course, different phrases stand out to different readers at different points in life.  Actually, different phrases stand out each time you read it. I encourage you to read it again for yourself (without my underlining) and see what stands out to you.

2 Chronicles 20:3-25 (my underline added for emphasis)
 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the Lord in the front of the new courtyard and said:“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’10 “But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. 11 See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. 12 O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.13 All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.14 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”18 Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.20 Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful. 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his[d] holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:Give thanks to the Lord,    for his love endures forever.”
22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seirto destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.
24 When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped.

If I take those underlined phrases and combine them into a thought, I get something like the following.  When I'm in a situation that seems impossible, I can decide to ask God about it.  When I stand before him he will hear me and save me. I don't have the strength to face it on my own, but I don't have to be afraid or discouraged because the battle is God's, not mine. I don't have to fight the battle, just take my position, stand firm, and watch to see the deliverance God provides.  God is with me and I don't need to be afraid or discouraged. (I like how he reminds us twice that we don't need to be afraid or discouraged). My response should be one of praise and worship, having faith that God will take care of me and thanking him even before seeing results.

It's been a while since I've taken a passage (especially an Old Testament passage) and broken it down like this.  It was exciting to find wisdom that can apply to many situations.  I have to smile at the creative ways God answers prayer.  If he can show me this passage at just the right time, he can surely provide answers and solutions to my other inquiries. Resolve to inquire.

Food for Thought: "Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord." -2 Chronicles 20:3

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fermented Friday: Asian Slaw

Fermented Friday: recipes featuring yeast, wine, beer or some form of fermentation

This recipe is a bit of a stretch for Fermented Friday, but technically it qualifies since soy sauce and rice vinegar are fermented products.  Soy sauce is made by fermenting soybeans with roasted wheat or barley.  Vinegar is produced when bacteria convert a fermented product into acetic acid.  The word itself comes from the French term for "sour wine" vin aigre.  Rice vinegar is made from, you guessed it, fermented rice.  See, we're still using fermentation.

Actually, I've just been craving this crunchy slaw for the past few weeks and needed an excuse to make it.  Okay, that and I put in enough hours at work this week that I didn't quite find time to finish the beer-cheese recipe I'm working on.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts: Saving Memories, Not Stuff

Thursday's Thoughts: a taste of what I'm thinking

As we continue to sort though my grandma's house, I'm having a hard time knowing what to save and what to keep.  It's not hard to guess I'm pretty biased on the kitchen things.  There are so many beautiful dishes, including depression glass.  While they're pretty to look at, will I ever use them?  And  where on earth will I store them until I find a place of my own?  Yes, many of the things are nice and may one day be quite useful.  But I don't need them, and I certainly don't need them right now.

I'm a saver, but I don't want to become (more of) a stockpiler.  There is beauty in simplicity and less is more.  If that's the case, then why do I hold onto things for so long?  I need to learn to save memories, not things. I have 4 boxes of papers in my closet filled with assignments, artwork and projects dating back to kindergarten.  While they are fun to look through, I don't need to save them.  I've started sorting through the boxes hoping to condense it down to just a small pile to save.  It's been fun reading through stories I wrote and looking back on lists of my favorite things at various ages.  Reading teachers' comments on report cards was also amusing.

I saved a few writing samples and report cards, but threw out most of the artwork, birthday cards and assignments.  A few of the stories I wrote made me laugh out loud. Kids say the funniest things and can be so blatantly honest.  It's interesting to look at the thought process of a child and even more interesting to stop and realize it was you.  One of my assignments was to write about my hero in life.  I started off writing about God being my hero and then ended with "my mom is also my hero because she tells my brother and I to stop fighting."   I bet teachers come across some pretty cute stuff while grading papers.  I'm sure they have to bite their tongues multiple times throughout the day as well.

It's easier to sort through papers than things that could be useful one day, but at least it's a start. Of course Pinterest is of no help in this area. It just gives me ideas of all the ways I could reuse things instead of getting rid of them.  Yes, these crafts are neat, but will I ever actually cut up all my old t-shirts and turn them into a rug?  If I find the time and motivation to start the project, will I finish it? And if I do actually find the time to make these re-purposed projects, will I use the final product?  I need to keep in mind would what I could do vs. what I will do, what's a nice idea vs. what's realistic.  In the end, it's all just stuff.  We can't take it with us when we die.  Okay, enough chatter, you really didn't need to hear all of that, and I should get back to sorting.

Food for Thought: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also." -Matthew 6: 19-21 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Candied Jalapenos

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Because some recipes are so weird I just HAVE to try them.  My curiosity always gets the better of me.

Candied Jalapenos?  Yep.  I've had my eye on these for a long time. You see, I have a few recipes to put them in, but candied jalapenos are nowhere to be found this far north.  When some beautifully colored green, red and orange jalapenos found their way to my kitchen, I decided it was time to make my own candied jalapenos.  After finally getting around to making these, I realized they need to sit two entire weeks before they're ready.  Somehow those last two weeks seemed longer than the months of time that had passed since I first discovered the concept. I dated and labeled the jar with "do not open" and hid it in the back of the fridge.

I was going to wait to post about these until I used them in a recipe, but that would put you in the same waiting dilemma.  If you make them now, they'll be ready (or almost ready) by the time I use them in something, ummm, more weird.  You didn't think I would settle for just making candied jalapenos, did you?  No, I'm going to use them in a few other ideas that I'm trying really hard not to tell you about right now. I mean, if I tell you the crazy things I plan to do with them, you might think I'm weird or something.  So yeah, that's all I can say about that.

Anyway, you can find the instructions for making your own candied jalapenos here.  Canning recipes are not recipes you can take and adapt to make your own. You must follow them exactly. The site linked above provides detailed instructions. This post also has nice step-by-step pictures.

Remember what I told you about wearing gloves? Do that. The wearing gloves part. Wear gloves. Wear gloves. This time around, I finally remembered! Well, sort of.  I didn't have gloves so I used plastic sandwich bags.  They kept my fingers from burning, but made slicing the jalapenos a bit challenging.  Wear gloves.

After a few weeks of waiting, I finally popped open a jar for a taste.  Despite all that sugar, the heat still takes center stage. After a fleeting microsecond of sweetness, my mouth was overpowered by heat.  Burning heat. Tongue-burning, make-your-nose-run heat. I couldn't taste any of the seasonings, but I could feel the fire.  Good thing I have some recipes in mind to balance that burn. My lips are locked on the ultra weird ones, but I'll give you a few other ideas of how to use these.  Pairing these candied jalapenos with sweet, juicy fruit seems like a good place to start.  I imagine they'd be just right in the Spicy Cucumber-Cantaloupe Salad  and  Grilled Watermelon Salsa I made earlier this summer.  Had I not frozen the mangos to use in yesterday's post, I would have made this Candied Jalapeno Mango Salsa featuring juicy mangos, fresh pineapple, candied jalapenos, tomatoes, black beans and lime juice.  Only time will tell what other trouble I'll get into with these.

Food for Thought: "You never fail until you stop trying." -Albert Einstein

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesday's Twist: Strawberry-Mango-Basil Frozen Yogurt

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

Let's squeeze in a little more summer, shall we?  I made several varieties of this frozen treat over the summer.  Each time it was so deliciously refreshing that I ate every last spoonful before my camera could even think about blinking.  Even this time around I gave up on the pictures and just ate it.  I tried putting it back in the freezer, hoping it would firm up enough to snap some better pictures.  But each time I went to check the freezer, a spoonful found its way to my mouth.  And then, all of a sudden, it was gone.  So much for that idea.   One velvety smooth spoonful and you'll understand my dilemma.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mindful Monday: Refocus and Repeat

Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here.

These haven't been on my mind lately, but I wish they had been.  Rather than just wishing they were on my mind, I can repeat verses over and over until they come to mind automatically.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. -2 Timothy 1:7

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it.  -1 Corinthians 10:13

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. -Isaiah 41:10

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. -Lamentations 2:21-26

'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' -2 Corinthians 12:9

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. -Psalm 34:8

Food for Thought: The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.- Proverbs 13:4

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fermented Friday: Smores Batter Bread

Fermented Friday: recipes featuring yeast, wine, beer or some form of fermentation

This week's yeast experiment comes in the form of a no-knead batter bread.  When I think of  yeast bread, I picture the lengthy process of kneading, rising, punching, shaping and rising again before finally baking.  I associate a batter bread with quick breads that rely on leavening agents such as baking soda or baking powder and require no kneading, rising or shaping.  This whole wheat loaf uses yeast for leavening, but requires no kneading or shaping.  Instead, you simply mix the ingredients together and pour the batter into a loaf pan.

I wasn't expecting too much from this loaf, I was more so just curious about the results.  Between my curiosity and leftover smores ingredients, this recipe seemed appropriate.  Sadly, I only made smores once this summer.  Though the chocolate bar is long gone, I still have plenty of marshmallows waiting to be put to use.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thursday's Thoughts: Enough

Thursday's Thoughts: a taste of what I'm thinking

On my own I will never be enough.  No matter how hard I try I will never bee good enough, thin enough, confident enough, capable enough, accomplished enough, perfect enough, patient enough, loving enough, complete enough, etc.  I can strive for all these things and more, but on my own I will never find them.  Trying to be enough through my own strength is a setup for failure that leads to disappointment.

Only God can satisfy, only he can complete me, only he is enough. It is only through his strength and help that I am anything at all. Without him I am nothing. When I feel empty and broken I'm relying on myself, other people or things instead of relying on God.  

Over and over again I try to fill myself up, to be enough. Each time I end up broken. Unfortunately, I often wait until I'm completely empty before turning back to him. Yet even when I'm broken and empty, God looks at me says, Be still, you are mine. In me you are enough, just as you are. He loves me, regardless of how broken or empty I may feel or actually be. Only love like that is enough to fill me back up.   

Food for Thought: "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." -Albert Einstein 


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Chip Basil Mini Muffins

Weird Recipe Wednesday: Because some recipes are so weird I just HAVE to try them.  My curiosity always gets the better of me.

Just hear me out on this one.  Peanut butter and banana are good friends.  Peanut butter and chocolate were made for each other.  Chocolate and banana also get along nicely.  So far, so good.

A while back we introduced peanut butter to basil.  Not long afterwords basil met chocolate.  Since they all seem to like each other, I decided they needed to hang out.  At the same time.  In muffins.  Mini muffins, to be exact.  Oh, did I mention I like to bake weird things?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday's Twist: Monster Cookie Popcorn

Tuesday's Twist:  A basic recipe with a fun twist.  In other words, just another excuse for me to play around with weird recipes I've been dying to try.

Between my obsession with peanut butter and my love of popcorn, it's not too surprising for me to combine the two.  I've been making peanut butter caramel corn for a while, but decided to jazz it up a bit for this week's twist.  Popcorn coated with the quintessential ingredients of a monster cookie leads to inevitable munching.

I can justify the munching, no problem.  You see, eating this crunchy snack is much healthier than just eating cookie dough.  Popcorn is a whole grain, so are rolled oats. Win, win.  Peanuts and peanut butter provide protein and raisins count as fruit.  Chocolate is made from cocoa beans so it's practically a vegetable. Wait a minute, that doesn't sound right. Don't believe everything you read.  Are cocoa beans similar enough to black beans to aid in our justification?  Hmmm, maybe we should just go with all things in moderation.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Mindful Monday: Grandma's Aprons

Mindful Monday: On Monday's I'm going to share what's been on my mind. I by no means have any of this figured out, I'm just thinking out loud here

While cleaning out my grandma's things, someone came across her aprons.  I couldn't resist hanging these treasures on her clothes line to flutter in the breeze.

From what we can figure, my great-grandma made the turquoise cross-stitched apron.  I'm not sure yet on the other two but they have been well used.  The blue apron with purple flowers was especially stained with stories.

The stains reminded me of a story about aprons I once read.  I received the version below in an email but am unsure of the exact source. It seems to be most often attributed to a poem by Tina Trivett which can be read here.

Grandma's Apron
Author Unknown
I don't think our kids know what an apron is.
The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath, because she only had a few. It was easier to wash aprons than dresses and they used less material, but along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.
It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.
From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.
When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids.
And when the weather was cold grandma wrapped it around her arms.
Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.
Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.
From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables.
After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.
In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.
When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.
When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men-folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.
It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.
Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool.
Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.
They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.
I never caught anything from an apron…But Love. 

Hmmm, I wonder who will find my aprons someday. .  

Food for Thought: "What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance.  They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies." -Rudolph Giuliani