Sweet Fahitas (Paleo)

This is a delicious way to use leftover roast.  Last night I combined leftover pork roast with whatever sounded good, and this satisfying meal is what happened.  It’s great, too, because you can serve this nutritious meal to your whole family, easily providing taco shells/soft tortillas for your kids.  (Serves 2 adults and 2 children)

1.  Melt 1 TBSP coconut oil in large pan or electric skillet

2.  Add:

1 onion, chopped
2 sweet peppers, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1/2 tsp. onion salt
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic with parsley
2 1/2 cups of leftover roast (beef, pork) or chicken

3.  Stir and then cover for about 10 minutes on medium heat.  Check and stir.  Remove from heat when desired carmelization has taken place. Remember to add the love!

4.  Serve with large leaf lettuce (or romaine will do) for healthy wraps with avocado slices on top … and (for those who can tolerate it) shredded cheese.  Enjoy!

Coconut Indian Chicken Spaghetti (AIP – Crockpot)

I miss Indian food.  So, I am coming up with my own variations!  This flavorful recipe hit the spot for me, and I hope it will for you, too.  It serves a family of 6, with leftovers if little people are involved.

 

Ingredients

Spaghetti squash

8-10 chicken thighs (boneless)

1 can full fat coconut milk

Sprinkles to taste of: ginger, coriander, cumin seed, and salt.

Optional: bag of frozen cauliflower

Instructions

1.) Bake the spaghetti squash at 350 degrees until cooked – about 45 – 60 minutes. (You can bake this ahead of time, putting the cooked squash into a pan with cover and refrigerating until you’re ready to rewarm it.)

2.) Place chicken (and cauliflower, if you wish) in a square pan (no need to grease).  Combine coconut milk with spices and pour over chicken.   Cover with foil – place in a 350 oven for 1 1/2 hours, OR place in a crockpot on low for 6 hours, high for 3 hours.  Stir halfway through and toward the end break it up into smaller pieces (will fall apart by itself).  I like to uncover and broil it at the end, but that’s just me.

3.) About 30 minutes before serving, put the cooked spaghetti squash pan in the oven to warm (if you cooked it ahead of time).

4.)  Serve the chicken gravy over the spaghetti squash – delish!  (Don’t forget to add the love!) 🙂

Tuna “Noodle” Casserole (AIP)

When eating the auto-immune protocol way, I never take delicious food for granted.  Today I thank God for giving me a fantastic idea for lunch.  It actually tasted like tuna noodle casserole from my former food life.  This is enough for four people and is a great way to use leftover cabbage, squash and lard.


Ingredients
Bacon grease (3 Tbsp)
1/4 cup leftover squash (any kind)
2 cans tuna, drained
About 5 cups of leftover purple cabbage (chopped into strips and cooked until slightly limp in a bit of olive oil)  cold from the frig
Onion salt to taste

Instructions
1.)  Leave leftover bacon grease in the pan after breakfast.
2.) At lunch reheat the lard, add in cans of tuna (drained) and crumbled up squash. Stir it around a bit until slightly browned and crisp.
3.)  Add cooked cabbage “noodles”  cold from the frig.
4.) Top with onion salt and love!  Enjoy!

How to Host a Church Ladies’ Luncheon In Your Home

 
“… distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.”
Romans 12:13 NKJV
 

A few years ago, when my oldest son was still a baby, I asked God what I could do to reach out to the women in my church.  An idea drifted in from Him regarding hospitality.  Thus began “Ladies Lunch at Sara’s.”

Three guidelines determined my plans:

     1.  Cover the entire event with prayer.
     2.  Invite three ladies at a time, making a group of four.
     3.  Keep it simple.

The Guests

I live 45 minutes from my church.  So most of our church ladies live near each other, down by the church.  It made me smile to think of ladies fellowshipping while driving to and from the event.  So, I whipped out my handy-dandy Church Directory (with photos) and started leafing through.  I made a few calls: some ladies had to work that day or had other plans.  But, eventually I came up with three hearty souls, willing to brave the drive.

Each luncheon I tried to choose at least one really talkative lady, so that there wouldn’t be a multitude of awkward silences.  I prayed over my guest list, asking God who He wanted to come, who needed to get better acquainted, and who needed encouragement.

My House

Our home is graced with a tiny dining room, and I was enthused to pull out my pretty dishes that I hardly ever use.  Remembering the many Swedish meals so lovingly served on the very same table, I joyfully decorated the worn-with-age table (covered with a pretty cloth) that had belonged to my grandparents.

I wanted to make the setting pretty and “girly” for this ladies day out.  But, I didn’t want it to be too fancy.  Sometimes I wonder if I made it too pretty (is that possible?) and so ladies didn’t feel like they could reciprocate because they didn’t feel like their luncheon would be similar to mine.  I hope that is not the case!  In the future I plan to keep it a bit more simple.

The Menu

Next came the menu – simple and delicious:

Chicken Salad or Chicken Caesar Salad
Crusty Cheesy Garlic Bread
Cherry Pie Fruit Salad or Fresh Fruit
Double Chocolate Pudding Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream
Tea/Coffee/Water

I prepared as much as I could ahead of time, and put it all together at the last minute.  Every luncheon I used the SAME menu.  This helped greatly in shopping for ingredients and preparing!  Tweaking the dishes caused them to get yummier each time I prepared them.

It seems like I also asked people ahead of time if they had any food allergies.  For sure I would do that now, since I am now gluten-intolerant and much more aware of such needs.  In case you are interested, I’ve posted my recipes below.

The Luncheon

Welcoming the guests was a joy.  My house isn’t tiny, nor it is huge.  One lady unknowingly made my day by calling my home “cozy like a cottage.”  My goal was to make my guests feel comfortable and to soothe their spirits with God’s tender loving care.  I wanted to honor them each as the precious souls they are, lovingly designed by God for a special purpose.

The unofficial schedule looked something like this:

Day Before

Set the table.  Cook the chicken.  Chill the cans of fruit for the fruit salad.  Place my crock-pot on the kitchen counter. Pray!

11:30     

Welcome the ladies & seat them in the family room while I finish small details.  Ask them if they would like something to drink.

11:40   

Invite the ladies to come to the table.  Sit down and pray together.  Eat!  I tried to balance the visit so no one woman monopolized the conversation.  My goal was to: curve away from gossip, try to point the conversation toward spiritual matters, get to know the ladies better, and have fun!

12:05     

Remove dirty dishes and serve dessert with hot tea and coffee.

12:20     

Retire to the family room for more conversation. 

After about another hour, eventually someone would say, “I think it’s time for us to go home.”  They always stayed just the right amount of time. 

Variations

The ladies luncheons worked perfectly during that stage of my life, because I timed the luncheon during my son’s nap.  Nowadays it would be a bit more challenging with sons ages seven and five, who are anxious to be part of anything involving food. 

Here are some ideas you could consider when tweaking this idea to fit your current stage of life:

1.  Join with another lady from your church and have the luncheon either at your house, her house, at a park, or at church.

2.  Buy similar sized baskets at a garage sale or thrift store.  Have a fancy “basket lunch” with simple items.  Line it with a cloth napkin.  Everything in the basket will taste delicious because it is in a fancy container and is shared with friends.  And there will be no last minute cooking, as well as simple clean-up.

3.  Include your children in the prayerful preparations.  They could be “chefs,” “waiters” or “waitresses” during the meal.  Tell them not to expect a tip, but plan a special time together for afterward: playing their favorite game, or take them out to ice cream and talk about how encouraged the ladies were by the time together.

4.  Plan for a larger group potluck.  You could announce a theme: salad potluck, dessert potluck, chocolate potluck, garden bounty potluck, pizza potluck (veggie pizza, fruit pizza, “real” pizza, and dessert pizza!), picnic baskets, etc. 

5.  Ask ladies to bring a “show-and-tell” item: something that is special to them to talk about to the group.

6.  No matter what, plan to include Christ in your party.  Write Bible verses on slips of paper and set them around the table.  Have a list of questions, some off-the-wall silly and others more spiritual in nature, to ask around the table during lunch.  Share a brief devotional.  Ask the group, “What has God been doing in your life?” and see where the conversation leads.  Inquire about prayer needs and pray together as a small group. 

7.  Prepare a small token of friendship to give them when they leave.  Keep it inexpensive and simple!  It could be a flower with a verse attached with a curly ribbon.  Or it could be a Bible verse magnet for their refrigerator.  How about a Dollar Store doily tied with pretty bowMaybe it could be a craft made by you and/or your children.

8.  Consider this part of your children’s education.  They can learn much about hospitality, socializing, manners, serving, and the delight of ministering to others through hosting a ladies’ luncheon.

9.  Mail each of the ladies a note, thanking them for coming and telling them what you appreciate about them.  Don’t forget to add an uplifting Bible verse.

Conclusion

When I became pregnant with our second child and was very sick most of the time, ladies luncheons could not continue.  I miss them and hope I can do it again someday.  As I look back on the five – six groups of ladies I had in my home, over the span of a few months, I thank God for the rich memories and treasured moments of encouragement He allowed us to enjoy. 

Sometimes ladies forgot to say thank you, while others brought a hostess gift or wrote a thank you note afterward.  I was touched to tears by one widow who sent a note describing the luncheon as “a highlight of her life.”  A few times I was sad because I did not receive an invitation back, but so much greater was the overwhelming joy that came from serving God and others!

Perhaps God is calling you to a ministry of hospitality in your home.  Keep it simple and God-centered, and you can’t go wrong!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Recipes

Chicken Salad (a yummy college home-economics class recipe – 6 servings)
2 cups chicken, cooked and diced
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup pineapple chunks, halved
12 black olives, halved
4 Tbsp. slivered almonds, toasted (browned in saucepan for 4 minutes)
1/2 cup mayo
Lettuce – 1 head

Chill plates (or serve right away out of the refrigerator).  Toss chicken and salt.  Add pineapple, celery, olives and mayo.  Lightly toss – don’t overwork.  Serve over lettuce – garnished with sliced almonds. 

Chicken Caesar Salad (from my dear friend, Barbara – 6 servings)
2 cups chicken, cooked and diced
1/2 – 3/4 cups parmesan cheese
1 bottle Classic Caesar Kraft dressing
14 grape tomatoes, halved
Italian croutons

Toss first three ingredients together lightly.  Top with tomatoes and croutons.  Be sure all the ingredients are served well-chilled.

Crusty Cheesy Garlic Bread (source unknown)
3/4 stick of butter, melted
3 TBSP. dried chives
2 TBSP. minced garlic
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp. salt
1 loaf Italian bread

Combine the first five ingredients and brush on sliced Italian bread (3/4″ slices).  Broil for 5 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm in a basket, wrapped in a cloth towel or napkin.

Cherry Pie Fruit Salad (source unknown)
1 can cherry pie filling
1 can sliced peaches
1 can sliced pear
1 can apricots
1 can pineapple chunks
Optional: blueberries, strawberries, grapes

Drain canned fruit and place all fruit in a large bowl.  Stir together and chill.  Just before serving, pour it into a clean bowl so it will look fresh and pretty.  Serve in small dishes or ramekins.

Crockpot Double Chocolate Pudding Cake (from my college friend, Jen … a chocolate lover’s dream come true!)

Mix:                                   
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3 TBSP. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Stir in:
1/2 cup milk
3 TBSP. melted butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Place batter in 3 1/2 quart crock-pot. 
In another bowl, mix:
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Sprinkle over batter in crockpot.  Gently pour 1 2/3 c. hot water over the top.  DO NOT STIR!  Cover and cook on high 1 3/4 – 2 hours.  Do not cook on low.  Serve with ice cream.

Popcorn Mania

On Monday night a friend and I met for our Christmas celebration.  We always wait until January and combine it with our “We Survived the Holidays” party.  She introduced me to a fabulous shop in our mall called Corn Fusion.  We burned off a few calories walking the mall before tasting samples from their approximately 50 choices.  I tried strawberry cheesecake, s’mores, loaded baked potato, and white cheddar.  DELICIOUS!  I told the lady I would be back, and I’m spreading the word amongst my local friends.

Since I can’t go to the mall very often, I went hunting for some popcorn recipes to tide me over.  I feel like I hit a snack goldmine …

“White Cheddar” Popcorn:
http://robinsonhomesweethome.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/homemade-white-cheddar-popcorn/

301 Flavored Popcorn Recipes:
http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/cat/764/

Enjoy!

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Christmas Yummies


‘Tis the season for Christmas treats!  What are your favorites?  I’d love to deliver a plate of yummies to your door!  But, since I can’t get to all of your homes, I will share some of the recipes of goodies our family enjoys year after year. 

Let’s start with the cheese balls.  Ooo!  Love cheese balls!  One is savory and one is sweet …

Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball – makes about 2 cups
8-oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup pecans or walnuts, finely chopped
Graham cracker sticks

Blend cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a mixing bowl until fluffy.  Gradually add sugars; beat just until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.  Place on a large piece of plastic wrap; shape into a ball.  Refrigerate for at least one additional hour.  At serving time, roll ball in chopped nuts.  Serve with graham cracker sticks for dipping. 

Savory Cheese Ball
I also like to shape this to form a Christmas tree on a platter.  It’s so pretty decorated with tiny tomatoes as ornaments and a cheese star on top (use cookie cutter or knife to form star out of sliced cheese).

2  8-oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 pkg. dried beef, chopped (or lunch meat)
1 tsp. seasoned salt

Mix cream cheese, 1/2 pkg. of beef, onion, salt, and Worcestershire sauce.  Mix well and shape into a ball.  Put in refrigerator for 15 minutes.  Roll ball in rest of beef.  Serve with crackers.

Next, the bars and cookies!

Butterscotch Cookies (from my Great Great Aunt Ida)
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup butter and lard (half of each…or just use butter)
2 eggs
2 cups flour with 1 tsp. soda and 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup nut meats

Mix altogether and put on moulding board (cutting board or counter).  Work in enough flour for cookie dough.  Mould in loaf (3″ wide and 1 1/2″ high) and put in refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Cut in thin slices and sprinkle with colored sugar.  Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes.

Caramel Bars
This recipe came from my dear friend Donna Bond.  Using this scrumptious treat I became a finalist at a baking contest in Ames, Iowa when I was in junior high.

Mix together: 1 box yellow cake mix
2 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar

Add and mix: 3/4 cup cooking oil and 1 egg

Spread 1/2 of this mixture in greased 9 x 13 pan.  Pour 3/4 cup caramel ice cream topping over dough (or melted caramels).  Try to keep topping about 1/2″ from the edge of cookie dough.  Crumble remaining dough over sauce.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  Cool.  Cut into bars.

Cherry Chip Cornflake Cookies (pictured above) – 5 dozen
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup soft butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. almond extract
3/4 cup corn flakes, crumbled
1 pkg. cherry chips (6 oz.)

Measure unpacked flour and mix with salt.  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Mix in egg yolk and almond extract.  Add flour and mix until smooth.  Stir in cornflakes and cherry chips.  Roll into 1″ balls, placing on ungreased cookie sheets.  Press with a fork lengthwise and crosswise, and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar.  Bake at 375 for 12-14 minutes.  Remove from sheet while still warm.

Gumdrop Cookies (pictured above)
1 cup softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten lightly
2 cups oatmeal
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup cut gumdrops
1 cup coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 400. Cream butter and sugars, add eggs and blend well. Add dry ingredients and mix until smooth.  Add coconut, oatmeal, gumdrops and vanilla last. Drop on cookie sheet.  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes.

Munchkins (pictured above)
Our Filipino daughter Amira taught us how to make these – YUM!  Bake a batch of brownies.  After cooling add some milk and roll into balls.  Then roll in shredded coconut.  You can also put a piece of candy or marshmallow in the center.

Spritz Cookies (pictured above)
Christmas isn’t just Christmas without traditional Swedish spritz! 

1 cup softened butter (real)
1 egg
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. almond extract
a pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. vanilla
a pinch of cream of tartar

Mix butter and sugar until creamy.  Add flour (unsifted) and baking powder to butter and sugar (a bit more flour may be needed).  Mix all ingredients together with hands to make a soft, not crumbly dough.  Preheat oven to 350.  Form cookies with cookie press.  Bake approximately 10 minutes.  Watch carefully to they don’t become brown. We like to make white camels with gold or silver ball eyes, green Christmas trees with gold balls at the tops and colored balls for decorations, and white or green wreaths by using star form and making a long “snake” of dough – trimming it to 3″ pieces and making a circle – 2 red hots at the top for holly and green sugar sprinkles. You can also make poinsettias or candy canes.

Whew!  With all this sweetness going around, we need something salty to balance it out …

Ranch Oyster Crackers – 3 cups
1 cup olive oil (or oil of preference)
1 tsp. dill weed
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 pkg. Ranch salad dressing mix
2  12-oz. pkgs. oyster crackers

Mix everything but the crackers.  Pour mixture over the crackers.  Mix well and let set for at least 1 hour before serving.

And the caramel corn (that isn’t really corn – so nothing getting into your teeth)!

Old Dutch Caramel Corn
1 8-oz. bag of Old Dutch Puff Corn Curls
Caramel Sauce: 1/2 lb. butter (real) (2 sticks) … 1 cup brown sugar … 1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. baking soda

Place corn curls in large roasting pan (can use disposable).  In 2 quart saucepan cook sauce ingredients (except soda) 2 minutes.  Add 1 tsp. soda to mix.  This will cause foaming – 2 quart pan necessary!  Pour caramel mix over corn curls and stir till mixed.  250 for 45 minutes.  Stir at least every 10-15 minutes.  Prepare counter/table with waxed paper on top of newspaper.  Pour cooked corn on waxed paper and separate piece by piece while still warm.  Beware: this is addictive!

And we can’t have Christmas without candy (well, we can, but you know what I mean)!  First of all, my Mom’s fabulous fudge …

Fantasy Fudge – 3 lbs.
3 cups sugar
2/3 cup (5 1/3-oz. can) evaporated milk
1 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup to 1 cup black walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 7-oz. jar marshmallow creme
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar, butter and milk in heavy 2-3 quart saucepan.  Bring to a full boil, stirring constantly.  Continue boiling 5 minutes over medium heat (to 234 degrees); remove from heat to prevent scorching.  Stir in chocolate chips till melted (gradual).  Add marshmallow creme, nuts and vanilla; beat till well blended.  Pour in greased 9 x 13 pan.  Cool. Cut.

Peppermint Patties – about 4 dozen
1 pkg. (8-oz.) creme cheese, softened
9 cups confectioners sugar
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. peppermint extract
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. shortening

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and extract until smooth.  Gradually add sugar, beating well.  Shape into 1″ balls. Place on waxed paper lined baking sheets.  Flatten into patties.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.  In a microwave (or in double boiler) melt chocolate and shortening; stir until smooth.  Cool slightly.  Dip patties in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper until firm.  Store in cool place.

And for a smashing finale, my friend Jane’s decadent bread …

Double Chocolate Bread – 6 mini loaves or 2 regular loaves
When my neighbor and friend Jane brought this over as a Christmas surprise, I shamelessly kept most of it for myself, only sharing the bare minimum with my dear husband and children!

1 box chocolate (or yellow) cake mix (moist devil’s food recommended)
2 boxes instant chocolate pudding
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups water
12 oz. bag chocolate chips (milk or semi-sweet or combination)
Chopped pecans (optional)

Mix together cake mix, pudding, eggs, oil, vanilla, and water until smooth.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Pour about 1/2 full into greased and floured (cocoa or carob powder) pans (big or small).  Bake 50 minutes – 1 hour at 350.  Let cool.  Remove from pans and wrap in plastic wrap or place in airtight container as this helps it remain moist. 

Happy baking and memory making!

Facebook Ministry

Facebook has certainly changed our lives.  For the longest time I avoided it. Then, as my twentieth high school reunion approached, I realized I wouldn’t know what was going on if I were not on Facebook.  So, I gave in, or rather, signed up to join the fun.  While I have chosen to take part, I completely understand and respect those who choose not to participate.

Getting a Facebook account has turned out to be a blessing for me. As long as I can control my time spent on it, Facebook is a place of encouragement: I get a chance to encourage others, and others encourage me.

I don’t know about you, but for me there is comfort in knowing that I am not alone in this crazy journey of life. Kimberly’s 6-year-old threw up last night, Carrie’s washing machine is on the blitz, and Janene’s car is in the shop, again – things like this challenge our family as well!  Some people post uplifting and convicting Scripture verses that minister to my soul, and there are plenty of hilarious cartoons to give a chuckle. At our house we love to keep in touch with foreign exchange students: those who are here, and those who have returned to their homelands.

With needy matters scattered across every page, Facebook is a terrific way to know how to pray for people. It has given me insight about those I am trying to reach, especially neighbors and teens in our church. Also, as a blast from the past, it has put me back in touch with former students, now young adults.  And our joyful conversation, rooted in the past, continues in the present and, Lord willing, on into the future.

How can Facebook be a ministry for you?  
Do you look at it simply as a place to vent and show off pictures?  I hope that you see it as more than that, as the ministry opportunity it is.

A few months ago I started a Facebook group called Kitchen Music.  Combining two of my favorite things in the name, it is a meeting place for fellow cooks.  We share recipes, food related stories, ask questions, and once in awhile I’ll post a Bible verse like, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalm 34:8)

Last autumn, I introduced a new feature called, “Recipe of Encouragement.”  On Mondays I post a specific person (such as pastors wives, singles, cancer fighters, and around the holidays neighbors and prickly relatives, to name a few) to focus on encouraging, along with ideas how to minister. Others in the group reciprocate with feedback: ideas and what they are doing to reach out that week.  It’s a blessing!

One dear pastor’s wife wrote in and said the best thing that can be given for her is prayers, as she often feels like she is under Satan’s attack. Another pastor’s wife joyfully recalled once when some teens in her church blessed them at a restaurant by insisting on paying for their meal. I hope these ideas and reminders will help Facebook friends take time to show appreciation to their pastor’s wife this weekend and continue to pray for her in the future.

As you go about your day as a woman on a mission for God, ask Him how modern technology, even Facebook, can be a tool of ministry for you.  How can you creatively use your computer for God?  I feel I should apologize for repeatedly using the word “encouragement” in this post. But, really, can there ever be too much encouragement?

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