Christ Has Risen! Happy Easter 2018

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Happy Easter! Christ has risen! Christ has risen indeed! Easter is my favorite holiday of the year. Spiritually, Good Friday is always heavy for me with the reminder that Christ died an awful death on a Roman cross for sins he did not commit so I can be forgiven for the sins I do commit.  Nothing fair about it for Jesus and full of grace and mercy for me.  But, Sunday’s coming and celebrating Christ’s Resurrection is what makes this my favorite day of the year!

Yesterday, my friend Gaye Hughes wrote an inspiring and emotional blog post, “Why is This Day Called Good”.   She says, “Yes, it was a horrible Friday around two thousand years ago today, but it was also a glorious day for the millions of believers in the ages to come.”

My faith in Jesus Christ would be meaningless if it was only about his virgin birth and the miracles he did while on earth.  What makes this faith worth living is that Sunday’s coming!  The grave could not hold Jesus Christ!  Tomorrow, along with millions of other believers I will celebrate the risen Christ.

God’s own words given to us in the Bible say it best:
“Then God released him from the horrors of death and brought him back to life again, for death could not keep this man within its grip.” 
Acts 2:24 TLB

What makes Easter worthy of celebrating for the last two thousand years is acknowledging that Christ rose from the grave, ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.  In doing so this gave all of Mankind the hope and promise we have as Believers that this life on earth isn’t all there is.  Our hearts are hard-wired to want to be with our Creator.  Through the risen Christ we are given the opportunity for eternal life.

My friend and author, Mary Jane Miller, wrote an exceptional blog post that is worth every minute of the time it takes to read it.   What’s the Point of Easter? Mary Jane asks, “Are your eggs in your basket or still on the lawn?”  She has an incredible gift of sharing The Word of God through analogies that are easy to understand and fun to read!

Physically and emotionally Easter in the springtime helps me reset my thinking and my attitude.  It helps me see that the world is not gray, dark, and dead at all.  But underneath the layers of dried grass, piles of muddy snow, or buckets of rain there is new life!

I will spend a little time in the kitchen today. My happy place!

Today’s special – Strawberry Pretzel Salad – A Spring Favorite!

Tomorrow, my Sous-chef Dish-washing Mom, my faithful Christ-following husband and me will attend Easter service — also my happy place!

Thank you for being a part of My Daily Bread Body and Soul.  May you find peace and joy this weekend in the newness of life brought forth by spring and the gift of eternal life given to us by Jesus’ resurrection!

Christ Has Risen!  Happy Easter,
~Blessings, Catherine

Japanese Milk Bread

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If you have been a part of My Daily Bread Body and Soul very long you will know that I adore making bread.  I like eating it but even more, I like making it!   I was in Japan a few years ago on vacation and I don’t remember bread ever being served.  And what about the Japanese restaurants where I’ve never eaten bread?

Recently I saw a post for Milk Bread from The Brown Eyed Baker.  When I saw her pictures I was drooling. When I read the list of ingredients I was puzzled.  Flour, water, cream, honey, yeast, eggs – this all sounds familiar.

The more I read about her milk bread the more I came to know it is actually fashioned after Japanese Milk Bread.  How is it I didn’t know about Japanese Milk Bread?

I read a New York Times article that said when panko, Japanese bread crumbs, first appeared here, American cooks fell in love with the crispy texture.  And I do love panko breadcrumbs! But how could breadcrumbs arrive from Japan, a land without bread?

Japanese Milk Bread

Ta-da!  The answer is here,  in the lofty, feathery white bread that is a staple at bakeries throughout Asia.  Panko is often made from the heels of the loaf, called the “ears” in Japanese. Milk bread was developed in Japan in the 20th century, using tangzhong, a warm flour-and-water paste traditionally used in China to make buns with a soft, springy texture and tiny air bubbles.

Using a recipe from Julia Moskin, I found Japanese milk bread with a soft crumb and buttery taste is easy to make at home, using grocery store ingredients. Once the tanzhong is cooked and cooled — about 10 minutes on the stove — you have a leavened dough that is soft and pliable with a fragrance that beckons everyone to the kitchen.

This loveliest of dough can be shaped into rolls, round loaves, pull-aparts, or an actual loaf of bread!

My oven was a little hot (and I wasn’t paying close enough attention) and so these rolls look a little over-browned.  As it turns out they weren’t.  My Chief Bread Eater and Sous-Chef Dish-washing mom flipped over Japanese Milk Bread.

Me?  I am making it again this week. Enough said.

Happy Baking!
~Catherine

Japanese Milk Bread
 
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Add Japanese Milk Bread to your repertoire of bread recipes - you won't be sorry and your family will flip over it - like mine did!
Author:
Recipe type: Bread
Serves: 2 loaves
Ingredients
FOR THE STARTER
  • ⅓ cup bread flour
  • ½ cup whole milk
FOR THE DOUGH
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packets)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup warm whole milk, plus extra for brushing on the unbaked loaves
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened at room temperature
Instructions
  1. For the starter: In a small heavy pot, whisk flour, milk and ½ cup water together until smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook, stirring often, until thickened but still pourable, about 10 minutes (it will thicken more as it cools). When it’s ready, the spoon will leave tracks on the bottom of the pot. Scrape into a measuring cup and lightly cover the surface with plastic wrap. Set aside to cool to room temperature. (You will have about 1 cup starter and it will make 2 loaves)
  2. Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt and mix for a few seconds, just until evenly combined.
  3. Add egg, milk and the cooled starter. Turn the mixer on low speed and knead 5 minutes.
  4. Add soft butter and knead another 10 to 12 minutes (it will take a few minutes for butter to be incorporated), until the dough is smooth and springy and just a bit tacky.
  5. Lightly butter the inside of a bowl. Use your hands to lift dough out of mixer bowl, shape into a ball and place in prepared bowl.
  6. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes.
  7. Punch the dough down and use your hands to scoop it out onto a surface. Using a bench scraper or a large knife, cut dough in half. Lightly form each half into a ball, cover again and let rise 15 minutes.
  8. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In the meantime, generously butter two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.
  9. Shape each half of the dough into a round - start by shaping your risen dough into a round. Let it rest for a few minutes after you do this to give the gluten a chance to relax. This will make shaping the loaf a lot easier.
  10. Flatten into a Rectangle - Use the heels of your hands to gently flatten the round into a rough rectangle. If the dough is sticking to the counter, sprinkle a little flour underneath. Try not to use too much flour, though, or else you'll have trouble getting the dough to stick to itself once you shape it.
  11. Fold the Bottom Third Up - This part is like folding a letter! Fold the bottom third of the dough over on itself.
  12. Fold the Top Third Down - Then fold the top of the dough down so that it overlaps the other layers.
  13. Pinch Closed - Use your fingers to pinch the dough closed where the top layer meets the bottom layers. Don't forget the sides!
  14. Fold the Dough Again - Our goal is to get the surface of the loaf as taut as possible. This will help the loaf rise evenly and keep its shape. If your loaf still seems a little loose after the initial folding, just fold it in half again and pinch it closed. We do this by pressing the middle down and drawing up the sides.
  15. Invert the Loaf into the Pan - Roll the loaf over until the seam is facing down and then gently lift the loaf into your pan. The seams should be on the bottom with the tight surface facing up.
  16. Let the Loaf Rise - The loaf is ready to bake when it starts to peak over the rim of the pan.
  17. Brush the top with milk and bake at 350 degrees F. on the bottom shelf of the oven until golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F. (check with instant read thermometer)
  18. Let cool in the pan 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and let cool at least 1 hour, to let the crust soften and keep the crumb lofty. (If cut too soon, the air bubbles trapped in the bread will deflate.)
Notes
Recipe adapted from:
https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016275-japanese-milk-bread

How to shape a loaf of bread:
https://www.thekitchn.com/basic-techniques-how-to-shape-97063

 

 

Avocado Brownies

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That’s right.  You heard me.  Avocado BROWNIES.

My initial reaction was, “gross… I have to try these!” And when I did, they were surprisingly fudgy and delicious!

I have mentioned before how I have an addiction to chocolate.  I’m not kidding… chocolate addiction is very real and very serious, kids.  Indulge responsibly.   I’m on the road to recovery, but after Valentine’s, I had a pretty big relapse.  I’ve been clean for about 45 minutes.  I’m confessing this to you because I want you to know that you’re not alone.  You can get help.  These brownies can help you.  They’re packed with healthy fats and antioxidants.

I think it’s important to note here that fat contains 9 calories to the gram (compared to carbs being only 4 calories per gram), so if you’re counting calories, these don’t really help you.  BUT, I want to reiterate the importance of the CONTENT of those calories.  For example, you can eat one regular-sized cookie or you can eat 4 cups of broccoli.  Same calories.  But your body responds entirely different based on what you are putting inside.  So these brownies are an improvement, but you should still practice self-control. 😉

Okay, back to the important stuff.  These brownies are full of healthy fats and contain more nutrition than the empty calories of normal brownies.  Most people who tried them loved them! …with the exception of one 10-year-old boy who thought they were an abominable lie against everything pure and good.  So, 14 out of 15 people enjoyed them.  Not bad odds if you ask me.  A lot better than Grape Nuts, and they’re still in business!

I made these two or three times and tweaked the recipe a tad.  The original recipe post from the Frugal Mom has really great pictures where you can see the fudgy richness and everything.  Here’s the link if you want to check it out.

The only reason I made changes was that I didn’t have coconut flour. I also felt that the frosting needed more honey and cocoa powder.  I added some salt because salt really helps to round out the flavors in baked goods.  And I doubled the vanilla because, well, I always do that. 😉

TIPS: Make sure your avocados are pretty soft.  If they are too firm, they won’t have as much fudginess (which is the most important thing in a brownie if you ask me).  If you don’t like fudgy brownies and want them more cake-like, add another egg to the batter (this also works for box mixes and cookies).  Secondly, make sure you let them cool all the way.  If you get too impatient like I did, you will burn your mouth.

I hope you get the chance to make these!  They really are yummy!  Let me know what you think!  Comment and share!

-Abby Hughes

Fudgy Avocado Brownies
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Fudgy, rich, and delicious. Perfect for those relentless chocolate cravings.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 20 Brownies
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 2 TBS Coconut Oil
  • 2 cups Avocado Puree (4-5 medium hass avocados, soft)
  • 1 cup Honey
  • 2½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 3 Eggs
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup Cocoa Powder
  • ½ cup Coconut Flour (I used coconut protein flour)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line the base of a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper allowing some overhang. Grease or spray pan.
  3. Melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave or over a double boiler.
  4. Puree the avocados in a food processor.
  5. Stir one cup avocado, ½ cup honey, and vanilla into the cooled chocolate.
  6. Add eggs, one at a time.
  7. Stir in coconut flour, ¼ tsp salt, and ½ cup cocoa powder just until mixed.
  8. Pour batter into pan and bake for 12-15 minutes.
  9. While the brownies cook, combine the other cup of avocado, ½ cup honey, ¼ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. vanilla, and ½ cup cocoa powder in the food processor to make the frosting.
  10. When the brownies are done, cool completely before removing from the pan.
  11. Spread frosting in an even layer on top of brownies.
  12. Cut and enjoy!

 

A Sweet & Peaceful Retreat – Oasis Christian Center & Retreat

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Can I just say, “Wow?!” Have you ever been to the Oasis Christian Center and Retreat in Kentucky? I had not even heard of it until I was invited to join a Community Bible Study leadership retreat a few weeks ago.

I knew before I even left the center that I wanted to share this little place on earth with you, my faithful readers!

My sous-chef dish-washing mom and I traveled the 100 miles from our home in Middle Tennessee north on I- 65 to Kentucky. It was an easy drive; the sun was shining and the frigid temperatures of the previous days were a distant memory.  As we made the turn off Highway 100 onto an almost-two-lane road we were captivated by the serene country vistas.

Dormitory and Large Gathering Room

A few miles of curvy road later we saw the retreat center. Multiple buildings were neatly sitting on the top of a hill surrounded by pastures from the farm it used to be. Immediately my mom remarked, “It sure looks neat as a pin!”

For the next twenty-four hours, we were cocooned in a restful and peaceful retreat from our busy lives of the outside world. The center has twenty-four individual rooms that are incredibly clean, sweetly decorated and within an easy walk from the main event center, chapel, and dining room. Additionally, they have a large dormitory that sleeps forty-eight!

After meeting up with our group I was introduced to “Andy” who would be my technician for the two times I would be presenting during the retreat. Immediately I was drawn to Andy because he is very kind, high-energy, and full of techie-talk!

Andy quickly assured me he could handle my PowerPoint, the sound system and any special requests I may have. True to his word, he handled everything with expertise! During my first presentation that evening I neglected to advance my PowerPoint slide as I spoke – he caught it and had the slide up before I even realized I had made a mistake!

Andy and his dad, Robert, cooked our meals, set up the dining room, put together a lovely serving table and waited on us hand and foot. I felt totally at peace, cared for, and really spoiled!

Saturday morning I spent time walking around a lovely pond that was set up as a prayer walk. Cards containing a variety of scriptures were placed on the poles that decorated the path around the pond.  Even though the sky was threatening rain and the winds were picking up, it did not take away from the precious time I had reading scripture and being in prayer. It was awesome!  Even this dreary winter weather didn’t douse my enthusiasm for being at Oasis Christian Center.

This retreat center is family run. In 2001, God gave Robert and Janet McClung the vision to start a Christian retreat facility where churches could bring their people to connect and grow.  Five years later in 2006, God opened the door for the McClungs to buy 75 beautiful acres in Franklin, KY and start Oasis Christian Center and Retreat.  They sold both their businesses and “dream home” in Hendersonville, TN and started construction in 2007.

Today, son Andy and his wife Courtney live on site and love to welcome guests to this beautiful place.  Andy’s brother Chad, rounds out the management team. Chad calls himself the “outdoors guy” and loves building and maintaining the various structures at Oasis.  He keeps a sharp eye on grounds and wants them looking perfect for guests.

Oasis Christian Center & Retreat is easily accessible from many locations in Kentucky and Tennessee including Franklin, Scottsville, Bowling Green, Westmoreland, Nashville, Portland, Gallatin, White House.  While most of their retreat guests come from Kentucky and Tennessee, they aren’t just limited to those states.  They’ve had guests from all over the United States and from other countries as well!

As Andy and I were doing some blog-talk I learned that five years ago he started the blog and website http://christiancamppro.com/. Today, it is the #1 leader in camp and retreat planning resources. I have only scratched the surface of reading information from the site but I already have downloaded some free sources for game planning, themes, and retreat checklists. I can already see how this is going to help me in our family reunion planning for this summer!

When I told Andy and his father how much I loved the place, Robert said, “Oh you should be here in the spring, summer, and fall. It is stunning!”  I can only imagine that it is!

Blessings, Catherine

P.S.  I plan on sharing my recipe for Sticky Biscuits with Andy!  I think they would be an awesome addition to their breakfast buffet.

Breakfast featuring Sticky Biscuits

Jesus said, "Feed my sheep." John 21:17

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