Morning Fruit and Yogurt Shake-Up

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blueberry ahake
I get bored with oatmeal.  Especially when the weather is hot and humid like is the norm at my house in the summertime.  This summer when berries were fresh and I wasn’t feeling good about my swim suit I started drinking fruit and yogurt shakes for breakfast.

Blueberry shake blender
I didn’t go all out and add protein powder or anything like that. I simply opened my refrigerator and put together a cup of Greek yogurt (vanilla flavored), a handful of blueberries and tossed in a few strawberries.  I added 5 pieces of ice and about 1/2 cup milk.

blue straw for shake
No sugar is needed because the yogurt has the vanilla flavoring and that is enough for me. You may or may not want to add a teaspoon or two of sugar if you give this a try.

pouring berry shake
I pulsed the blender on the crushed ice button a few times and voila’!  I really never intended to blog this little recipe of mine except that it is so dang tasty and really filling and I thought you might like to give it a try.

picked blueberries
I realize that for the most part the fruit is now stowed-away frozen in the freezer, but that’s okay.  The frozen fruit works equally well.  I also tried cantaloupe that was almost past it’s prime and boy-oh-boy is it delicious!  The weather is finally turning cooler and oatmeal may be back in style. But for me — I am shaking up the morning with fruit and yogurt!

Have a blessed week,
Catherine

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”

Philippians 2:1-2 NIV

Morning Shake-Up

Morning Shake-Up

Shake up your morning with a delicious combination of fruit and yogurt. Perfect on-the-go breakfast!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (plain or flavored)
  • 1/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 5 ice cubes

Directions

  1. Place everything in the blender and pulse on and off until well blended and the ice is crushed into fine pieces.
  2. If the shake is too thick for your taste, add a little bit more milk.
  3. Enjoy!

Notes

Most any fruit will work equally well. Peaches - cantaloupe - raspberries - kiwi - blackberries - your choice!

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Ice Cream, You Scream, We All Scream …

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Strawberry frozen Yogurt
When I began to write this post about ice cream the corn looked like this.

July Mushroom Corn
Today, the corn looks like this.

SONY DSC
Okay, I admit the ice cream recipe has nothing at all to do with the corn.  But it does have something to say about my ability to share an ice cream recipe when it is actually ICE CREAM SEASON !

What?  Every season is ice cream season?

That is exactly how I look at ice cream!  It really is never to hot and most generally never too cold for ice cream.  Okay, maybe -20 below zero but hey, it is still 90 degrees with 90% humidity in the South and we are still trying to find just a breath of cool fresh air during the day and night!

perfect scoop
Here is the cookbook that is conveniently located within reach of my Kitchen Aid Ice Cream maker.  I’ve shared a fantastic Coffee Ice Cream from David’s book and even a DIY Tin Roof.

So, when temperatures began to rise last spring and I had a yearning for ice cream I started leafing through The Perfect Scoop.  Strawberries were fresh, plentiful and cheap.  Our blueberries were just turning and my Chief gardener brought in a few from his garden.

Fresh Blueberries
I didn’t use all of these, just a handful.  The others went into this beautiful blueberry cobbler.

On this particular day I landed on a recipe for Strawberry Frozen Yogurt. Swim suits were once again making an appearance in our laundry basket and I rationalized yogurt is a better choice for this frozen treat and I had the short list of ingredients necessary to get it going!

  1. Strawberries
  2. Blueberries (my addition)
  3. Sugar
  4. Yogurt
  5. Vodka or Kirsch (optional)
  6. lemon juice

This is what David says about alcohol in our frozen treat:  “Alcohol does two things in ice cream:  it prevents ice cream and sorbet from freezing too hard (alcohol doesn’t freeze) and it provides flavor, as in the case of Kirsch. 

He also says for fruit-based recipes, spirits like Kirsch, vodka, gin and eau-de-vie will enhance the flavor and produce a softer texture by preventing the ice crystals from forming.  It doesn’t take much and more is NOT better or you may end up with a mixture that doesn’t freeze at all!

I used 2 teaspoons of Vodka and it turned out perfect.  What I particularly like about a recipe like this one is that you can mix it up in a couple of minutes, refrigerate for one hour, freeze it in the ice cream freezer and then put it back in the freezer, ready to serve at the end of the meal.  So easy and quick!

When the temperatures act a little more like autumn I will start posting some fallish-recipes.  But for now we are still eating homemade ice cream and frozen yogurt!

Have a blessed week!
Catherine

Time for Everything

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Mixed Berry Frozen Yogurt

Mixed Berry Frozen Yogurt

Anytime is the perfect time for this fresh berry frozen yogurt.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vodka or kirsch (optional)
  • 1 cup yogurt (plain or vanilla flavored, regular or Greek)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

  1. Slice the strawberries into small pieces. Toss strawberries and blueberries in a bowl with the sugar and vodka or kirsch, if using, stirring until the sugars begins to dissolve. Cover and let stand at room temperature for up to 1 hour, stirring a couple times.
  2. Puree the berries and their liquid with the yogurt and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until smooth. If you wish, press the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove any seeds.
  3. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Notes

Cook's notes: This frozen yogurt can be made with all strawberries or all blueberries (2 cups total)

Also, may be made with frozen fruit. Alcohol is optional but makes the frozen yogurt less icy giving it a a better texture.

Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz, The Perfect Scoop

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How Control Freaks Let Go and Let God

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Eating Green Vegetables

Eating our green vegetables … Zucchini bars!

I asked my husband, “Am I a control freak?”

He said, “well, you are not a freak.”  Then he went on to explain how he sees me as organized and that I like to be in control but not in a frreaky way.

That wasN’T really good enough for me to not call myself a control freak but also realistic enough for me to realize that my controlling nature doesn’t always leave room for God to move as He will within my life.

Waaay last May (which seems like a lifetime ago) over a game of cards with two of our grandsons and their parents, we made the commitment for the grandsons to come to Tennessee to stay with us for 10 days in August.  At the time the calendar looked pretty clear and I was thrilled to think the boys would be with us for a full 10 days before starting back to school in Denver.

I joyfully began to make lists.  A list of food they liked to eat (with some help from their mom).  The list of  activities to keep them busy.  I made the too-hot to be outside list.  The rainy day list.  The outing in the car list — far enough away to make it a trip but not so far as to become boring. I talked to the neighbors to see who else had grandchildren visiting at the same time so we could have a play-date list. The really sad thing about this list of lists — it is all true!  (Help me! :))

So, when on June 27th my summer plans were turned up-side-down I was left sifting through my lists wondering how in the world it was all going to work out.  Immediately upon finding out my mom had breast cancer our schedule became jam-packed full.  Each and every day brought on another round of appointments in the nearest city with a regional medical center.  Did I mention that we live in the country, a 1 hour drive away from that medical center?

All through July my sous-chef dish-washing mom and I would make that drive from appointment to appointment.  God was so good to us. He continually met our needs, giving us strength and even sometimes laughter to get where we needed to go.  We listened to praise music and talked about how blessed we were to be able to make the drive to a medical center where she could get treatment.  We counted all our blessings each and every day.  We had each other, a good car to drive, health insurance, loving medical staff, and at home my Chief Culinary Consultant oftentimes had dinner on the table when we arrived home at the end of a long day.  My knight-in-shining-armor.

Brothers
As July gave way to August I felt the weight of August 10th fast approaching.  The day my little grandsons, ages 6 and 8 would arrive in Tennessee.  I would look over the lists and pray the Lord would make a way for those little boys to have a wonderful summer experience while at the same time not letting my mom down when I thought she needed me most.

Jeremiah 29:11 is that often-quoted scripture when we are looking for events and life in general to go our way.

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 

As I prayed prior to my little boys arriving  I felt a lot of comfort from those words.  It was going to be alright.  Everything will work out.  But it wasn’t until I really tagged on the next verse did the peace come for me.

12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, Jeremiah 29:12

It wasn’t until I let go and let God did everything really fall in to place.  You see, I have the ability and desire to take my mom where she needs to go, when she needs to go.  The Lord has given me the freedom each and everyday to do for my family.  But sometimes all those “can do” and “must do” get all mixed up.  But it wasn’t until I started trusting Him and praising Him did He unveil His plan for my time in August.

When my little grandsons were here God provided so many neighbors and friends who lined up to help mom get to her daily radiation treatments.  And for me He took away the guilt that I should be the one driving her to and from.

On Hummingbird Watch
There is so much comfort in knowing and believing that long before events happen in our life we have a Heavenly Father that cares enough about each of us to orchestrate just the right plans to get us through each and every life situation.

In my last post,  Woo-Hoo From The WHOot  I mentioned I would tell you why August 20 is important to my God-story ….

Our grandsons arrived on August 10 and flew back home on August 20.  Each and every day I began the day in two ways — first, thanking God for clearing the way for beautiful time spent with our grandchildren.  Second, wondering are they up yet? :)

header-2014
On August 20THE WHOot  used some of my pictures and a recipe of mine on their blog and it has created a firestorm of activity on my blog.  Without a doubt I know that God provided that activity for me when I couldn’t do it for myself.  And when I was tired and worn out (August 20) He chose that day to create the biggest amount of activity on my blog that I have ever had. Coincidence?  I think not.

My dependence on Him continues to sore as time and time again He shows me how a relationship with Him is the most important thing I can have in my life under the sun.

To me, the most important part of Jeremiah 29 isn’t the part that God says “I’ve got you in my plans” but the part that says “12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.” He hears me. 

Praising Him through our life circumstances makes all the difference.  My prayer for you is that no matter what you are going through today, you will call on His name, praise him, and know that you are in HIS plans!

Have a blessed weekend,
Catherine

P.S.  Oh, I almost forgot … the first picture of my little guys holding a zucchini and eating zucchini bars — we just wanted to show their mom and dad that they were indeed eating their green vegetables at Grandma’s!

Zucchini Bars With Browned Butter Frosting

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 48 bars

Zucchini Bars With Browned Butter Frosting

Perfect end of summer dessert when zucchini is plentiful and desserts are always on the menu!

Ingredients

    Bars
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil*
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 medium)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (optional)
  • Browned Butter Frosting
  • 6 tablespoons butter (do not use margarine)
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 to 10 tablespoons milk

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom and sides of 15x10x1-inch pan with shortening or spray with cooking spray.
  2. In large bowl, beat granulated sugar, oil and eggs with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in zucchini and pecans. Spread in pan.
  3. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and top is golden brown. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, in 4-quart saucepan, heat butter over medium heat until light golden brown; remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar, vanilla and milk until smooth and spreadable. Spread Browned Butter Frosting on cooled bars. For bars, cut into 8 rows by 6 rows.

Notes

This is a Betty Crocker recipe I have used for years and it always turns out wonderful. *I decrease the oil from 1 cup to 3/4 cup because I just don't think it needs 1 cup. Very cake-like and moist with 3/4 cup.

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Woo-Hoo From The WHOot!

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baked stuffed chicken breasts
Seventy-one days after my last blog post on July 22 I signed on to the administrative part of my blog.  I had 46 comments sent in during that time. I began working through the ones that were spam and needed deleted and the ones that were genuine and deserved a reply.

That is when I noticed my little graph that tells me how many page views are on my blog each day. Google explains a page view like this:  A page view is an instance of a page being loaded by a browser. The page views metric is the total number of pages viewed; repeated views of a single page are also counted.

Okay, that is the technical mumbo-jumbo.  But to me, it simply means a number that tells me each time someone looks at my blog.  It doesn’t tell me who, or how long they spent, or what they thought.  It simply says they were here.

Why does this matter?  If I were building a business from this website it might matter because the more views the more clicks through to paid advertising.  But I didn’t start this site to build a business.  I began this site to share my love for food, my desire to cook for my family, and my love for Christ, via sharing scripture and my life experience. Even though this isn’t a business, the more page views the blog receives the more opportunities I have to share.

This blog typically receives between 100 and 200 page views per day. But when “the numbers” tell me that on August 20 my blog received 692 page views I got excited.  What happened on August 19 or 20 that created so much interest in this page?

header-2014

The WHOot.com  — that is what happened. And here is what they got excited about:

stuffed chicken bacon wrapbacon wrap stuffed chicken single

I totally agree that these Cream Cheese Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts are fantastic but after I posted it on November 11, 2013 I kinda put the recipe away and moved on.  However, the beauty of owning a website is that the information posted stays on … well, forever.  That may be good news-bad news depending on what you post.  But in this case it is GREAT news!

My first reaction to seeing 692 page views is an over-whelming sense of gratitude to God.  Why? Because in the midst of a frantic summer and struggling with day-to-day appointments for my sous-chef dish-washing mom I neglected my website.  I didn’t have the time or inclination to write.  I didn’t have the strength to tell you what I was cooking.  I didn’t want to even turn on my computer.  But you see, the Lord knows how much of myself I have put in to praying, cooking, and blogging.  And when I couldn’t care, He took care of it for me.

Some how, editors at www.theWHOot.com, an Australian based website, saw my bacon wrapped chicken breasts and featured them on their website and I am still receiving daily page views because of it.

You can say this is just a coincidence, but to me this feels like a great big ‘ol bear-hug from God!  I can feel His warmth around me as He smiles and says “I’ve got this.”

Christian Author Jon Walker says it this way,  “If you understand that any blessing comes from God, then you can be grateful to him as well as the people he sends to bless you. Our ability to see God’s hand in the blessings we receive deepens our faith because we not only see him active in our circumstances; we also see him providing for our needs.”

Next blog post I will tell you why August 20 is important in my God-story.  In the meantime, try out these chicken breasts for dinner. I’m going to make them again this week just to celebrate GOD!

Blessings, Catherine

Thank you Lord for keeping me in your care.  Thank you for taking care of things that are important to me when I can’t do it for myself.  Thank you Lord for caring about me.

“Look at the birds: they do not plant seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns; yet your Father in heaven takes care of them! Aren’t you worth much more than birds?” (Matthew 6:26)

 

 

Praying More Than Cooking or Blogging

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Matthew5-16
Hello! I haven’t written a blog post since July 22. I’ve looked over a dozen recipes and pictures I have taken in the last 8 weeks. But nothing seems just right. That is probably because it is soul food that has kept me alive of late.

I was sharing with a girlfriend today that I am not really sure how to begin after such a long spell. Then she told me about a devotional she read last night. She basically said that walking through the desert with Christ is so much better than sailing through the day without Him. Yes, I thought, that is the life I’ve been walking through.

I’ve been reminded that my very worse day with Christ is better than my best day without Him.

Pray, cook, blog. A simple day. A little time in prayer, a little time cooking, and some time spent blogging. However, when life comes at you fast the simple can get totally upended. When that happens a typical day may be more like PRAY! Pray! Pray! Eat something. Pray some more!

On June 27th my 83 year-old sous-chef dish-washing mom received a call from her doctor, the very surgeon who, just 2 days earlier, performed a breast biopsy on her. He said, “Ms. Alice, the tumor I took out is cancer.”

I was on the extension phone listening in because we had waited for that call to come. Waiting to hear “the tumor is benign and you are good to go.” Instead, we heard that there was to be another surgery within the next few weeks. Then there was to be tests, more tests, pathology reports and more reports.  And, after a period of healing, a round of radiation was possible.

Honestly, in the year 2014 all of us know someone who has or who had cancer. Most of us know a neighbor, a friend, or someone at church who is fighting the fight against cancer.

But I must tell you, when it is your loved one, when the call comes to your house, when the words from the doctor impact your life, the meaning of cancer changes.

It gets personal. It gets personal real fast.

When I heard her diagnosis I immediately felt the only power I possibly had was through prayer. It was at that very moment that I realized with a thankful heart that I didn’t have to introduce myself to God. I didn’t have to remind Him who I am, where I came from, and how He knows me. My mother needed God’s healing touch and I needed strength and help to know how to support my mom.

We both needed the strength and peace that can only come from the One who created us, loves us, and wants the very best for us. I am grateful that from that day on and everyday since I have simply called His name, poured out my prayers for my mom, and I have known without a shadow of a doubt He heard me.

Just like any personal relationship, it does not happen in the blink of an eye. A personal relationship takes time. It is formed through conversation, back and forth listening to each other, spending time together, and sometimes through tears and laughter. A relationship with God is no different. It takes time. It can take years to perfect. Hours upon hours spent together.

At the moment life gets really tough, it is personal relationships that get us through. We have received a mountain of help from friends, neighbors, doctors, nurses, technicians and family members these last 2 months. But the greatest help has come in the form of unexplainable peace from God, emotional and spiritual comfort even when the body was uncomfortable, and through the everlasting promises of our God.

Whatever you are walking through today I want to encourage you. I want you to know that walking through the desert with Christ is so much better than sailing through any day without Him. I want you to know you only have to say his name, “Abba, Father, God, Lord Jesus,” whatever you say – He hears you.

My sous-chef dish-washing mom is doing well. Without any complaint she endured two surgeries, umpteen tests and doctors appointments followed by 16 days of radiation treatment. We are starting September anew and we are both spending more time in prayer, thanking Him who gave us His strength when we didn’t think we could find any.

May you also have that peace and strength today. I want to close this blog post with a few scriptures – words from our Lord.  The very scriptures that have helped carry us through this walk in the desert. There are so many I can choose from. Here are a few.

Blessings, Catherine

Philippians 4:13
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Isaiah 40:29
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.

Psalm 119:28
My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.

Ephesians 6:10
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

Isaiah 40:31
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Mark 12:30
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

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