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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Thanksgiving Break!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Recipe Review: Cinnamon Rolls

If you want to make friends, influence people, or snag a significant other, you might wanna take notes, break out an apron, and get to bakin', because these cinnamon rolls are fantastic. Some people have even told me that they're better than Krispy Kreme doughnuts, although that cannot be confirmed nor denied. 

The recipe looks kind of intimidating at first, but once you make them a few times, you'll get the hang of it.

Some tips:
  • Instead of setting the dough in a warm place to rise (which can sometimes be finicky), I turn the oven on 200 degrees, prop the door open, and set the bowl full of dough on the edge of the oven, covered with a tea towel. The constant, but not direct, heat source helps the dough to rise without fail every time.
  • After lathering the dough with butter, cinnamon, and sugar, I suggest slowly rolling the dough towards you, periodically pressing firmly to make sure the glorious, caloric contents stay within the rolls.
  • Don't skimp on the cinnamon. If you don't think you put too much, you probably didn't put enough.
  • Pick up disposable circular aluminum foil pans and hand them out as Christmas presents or take them to neighbors and friends for a special holiday treat. This has been a huge hit for me in the past! 
  • This recipe makes a lot of cinnamon rolls, which, trust me, is not a bad thing. I usually end up giving some away, baking some immediately, and freezing some (especially for Christmas morning!). 

Here's the recipe for Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful Things: Part II

I was going to include my fam in the earlier post but it was just too much, they deserve their own post of glory. 

Seriously I love my family. They're a little crazy, let's be real, but they're super awesome. I feel like I've been able to truly appreciate my family now that I'm in college and not getting to enjoy their company 24/7.
As I've started thinking about how I want my own family to function one day, I've found myself valuing and wanting to employ the things and rules my parents did and enforced (even though I may or may not have hated some of those things at the time). Thanks for not letting me get that Brittany Spears CD in the 2nd grade and for making me listen to Point of Grace. Thanks for homeschooling me (and making sacrifices to do so) and teaching me the value of working hard and self-discipline. Thanks for not letting me go on dates with icky boys at age 15. Thanks for not letting me watch Bring It On. Thanks for kissing each other on the lips, even though I thought it was gross when I was little. Thanks for working for your marriage. Thanks for sacrificing and saving money so that I can go to college and not worry about finances.
Thanks for being a stellar example of provision, Daddy. And making the best eggs ever (even in ill-stocked beach houses). Thanks for making me laugh all the time. And thanks for embarrassing me and keeping me humble. Thanks for being a true leader at home, at work, and at church. Thanks for coaching tons of teams, and for reading books to coach sports you didn't have the slightest clue how to play.
Thanks for being the best example ever of what homebuilding is, Mom. Thanks for being an awesome cook and teaching me how to be hospitable. Thanks for spouting off Scripture when I had a problem and that was literally the last thing in the world I wanted to hear. Thanks for teaching me how to properly stir ingredients together, scrape a bowl clean, and lick beaters (without worrying about salmonella). And thanks for getting the coffee ready every night before bed when I was in high school. I kinda wish you could come to my apartment every night and do that.
Thanks for being hilarious, bubs. I'm pretty sure I will always think (most) everything you do/say is funny. Thanks for still giving me hugs and sleeping in my room on Christmas Eve. I'm thankful Mom & Dad listened to four-year-old me when I incessantly cried and asked for a baby brother. Life would be boring without you.
My godfamily is basically an extension of my real family. They're wonderful.
Thanks for being so great, Mrs. Ava & Mr. Glenn. Thanks for giving me a wonderful picture of godly marriage. Thanks for always inviting us over for Sunday lunch and fixing the best rolls known to man. Thanks for being my godparents and even being willing to buy me that Laura Ashley princess bedroom suite I requested at age 7 should you have become my guardians :) Thanks for always sending me encouraging text messages and praying for me if you know I have lots going on, Mrs. Ava. Thanks for always giving me a hard time about boys, providing comedy, and being a good sport when we give you a hard time about proposing to Mrs. Ava (twice), Mr. Glenn.
Thanks for taking me on my first date, David, and showing me how a man should treat me. Thanks for playing Nintendo 64 with me after lunch on Sundays even when I'm sure you didn't want to. Thanks for being a wonderful example of the kind of man I want to marry someday. Bethany, you're super sweet, tender-hearted, and warm spirited. I'm so thankful you're a part of our family.
Thanks for being a great youth pastor, Rook partner, and fellow Napoleon Dynamite fan, Jonathan. Thanks for being structured, but awesome as a youth pastor. Thanks for being so wise and gentle in giving instruction. Thanks for letting me hang out with you on Sunday afternoons for years, introducing me to the batwolf in the basement, fixing me horribly disgusting tea, and letting me wear your Jets jersey to root on your fave team. 
Thanks for being such a godly woman and example in my life, Laura. Thanks for teaching Sunday School for years. Seriously, your lessons were some of the most critical things I learned in high school. Thanks for being a great mom. And thanks for letting me be one of your bridesmaids.
And thanks for making sweet babies and being fun and structured parents!

Love you all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"I Only Like You When You Give Me Cookies."

If you haven't seen this gem, watch it now. I could eat those cheeks up. I hope my babies have big cheeks. I will kiss them all the time. 

I digress...

The real reason I'm telling you about cookies is so you can make these for Thanksgiving and impress everyone with your baking skills. Even if you don't have any baking skills whatsoever, you can ace these cookies and still be impressive. These cookies are so easy I'm literally embarrassed to post them. They're just too cute to hide.

You just need a tube of sugar cookie dough, brown food coloring or gel, mini Reese's cups, icing (I used cream cheese icing), and orange food coloring. You could totally do chocolate cookies of sorts or even peanut butter and add the brown food coloring. 

Pop the colored cookie dough in the oven for 8 minutes and allow them to cool (seriously let them cool, otherwise the Reese's will slide all around and the icing won't set). Place a Reese's cup in the middle of each cookie. Line the base of the cup with white icing and make a little orange square for the hat buckle. They're super cute and super delicious. 

Happy almost Thanksgiving!

Thankful Things: Part I

Praise the Lord it's almost Thanksgiving. This girl needs a break. All this paper writing is slowly ebbing away my motivation. So instead of writing final papers, I thought I'd take a break and write a quintessential Thanksgiving blog post about things I'm thankful for.
(To even out the former complaint about school...) Even though UNC wasn't my first choice, I am so so thankful I ended up here. Academically it's not been easy, but I've learned a lot, both in  & out of the classroom. I've gotten some pretty great opportunities like being a TA and doing research that I probably wouldn't have gotten anywhere else. And if I hadn't come to Carolina, I wouldn't have ended up at the Summit.
I'm indescribably thankful for the Summit Church for a ton of reasons. Through the Summit, I've learned what the Gospel really is and seen what it looks like to live out the Gospel on a daily basis. The City Project was completely instrumental in helping me learn these things. I've also gotten to be a part of solid community through TCP and my awesome women's small group! 
I'm also super thankful for the wonderful Summit staff and their wives. It's been such a blessing to get to network with and glean knowledge from them, especially when it means getting to play with their cute kids or having a home cooked meal :)
And I met this man through the Summit, which has been indescribably wonderful, fun-filled, and sanctifying.
It's been so wonderful helping lead Route 56. I'm so thankful for this crucial ministry within the church and feel so blessed that I get to help out with it. 5th and 6th graders are crazy and hysterical, immature and mature, awkward and cool, deep and shallow all at the same time.

I'm so thankful for the things God has allowed me to experience in the past few months. God constantly put himself on display in Kenya. He is ultimate source of beauty. For realz. 
I'm so thankful for how God is growing my heart for the nations. I pray that this process only continues throughout my life.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Recipe Review: Pumpkin Muffins

Fall might be my favorite season. I love cold weather, scarves, boots, crunchy leaves, watching football on Sunday afternoons, hot coffee, not sweating profusely on the way back from class, and the fact that Thanksgiving means Christmas is almost here! Hands down my favorite fall food is these bad boys. They're fantastic.

Here's the recipe:

1 tsp. baking soda
1/3 c. water
1 c. cooked pumpkin
½ c. oil or applesauce (fat free)
2 eggs, beaten or 2/3 c. egg substitute
1 ½ c. sugar
1 2/3 c. flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg

Dissolve baking soda in water.
Combine all other ingredients, sifting dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.
Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes (for regular sized muffins) or about 9 minutes for mini-muffins.
Yield: about 60 mini-muffins 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Recipe Review: Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Growing up, I hated soup. To this day I'm still kinda finicky about it. But this soup is by far my all-time favorite. 
It's pretty simple. Just celery, carrots, onions, mushroom, rice, shredded chicken, cream of mushroom soup & broth. And butter :)
And if you have a KitchenAid mixer, you can stick in a couple of cooked and slightly cooled chicken breasts and it will literally shred them for you. I didn't believe it for myself, but I tried it and it worked beautifully. 
This was the first time I had chicken and wild rice soup that wasn't made by my sweet mama and it turned out great!

Here's the recipe:
2 quarts chicken broth
1/2 lb. mushrooms, chopped (I didn't add quite this many)
1 c. finely chopped celery
1 c. shredded carrots
1/2 c. finely chopped onions
1 tsp. chicken bouillon (I left this out)
1 tsp. parsley
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/2 stick butter (or if you're like me, add a whole stick by accident and don't take any out)
1/4 c. flour
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 c. additional broth or milk
2 c. shredded, cooked chicken
1 box long grain and wild rice, prepared according to directions on box

Combine 1 qt. broth, mushrooms, celery, carrots, onions, bouillon, parsley, garlic powder, thyme in pot. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

In a large pot, melt 1/2 stick butter, stir in flour, whisk in broth. Bring to boil, cook & stir until the mixture thickens (about the consistency of gravy). Mix in can of soup, milk, chicken and rice. Pour vegetable mixture into large pot and heat through. 

Serve with homemade bread!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pocket Full of Shame

Lately I've been enamored with Isaiah 61. It's such a beautiful passage with wonderful promises to cling to. One part though, is kinda random:

"Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy. For I the LORD love justice." (Isaiah 61:7-8a)

Okay, so, no shame, double portion, good, good, joy, got it. Wait, "I the Lord love justice"? Random. Why does Isaiah talk about God giving us a double portion and then randomly declare that He loves justice? Well, because God wouldn't be just if he forgave all our sins through Jesus' substitutionary death and then let us sit in the shame of those sins. That would essentially be like punishing those sins twice, which because God loves justice, He cannot and will not do. 

I know Jesus paid the debt for all of my sins at Calvary in my head, but wallowing in the shame I feel from those sins shows that I don't truly understand the Gospel in my heart. Carrying around shame in my back pocket shows I don't believe the Gospel is powerful enough to once and for all take away my sin and shame. God didn't design us to carry around the weight of our sin, which is why Jesus lovingly took my place and yours on the cross so we wouldn't have to walk around with shame hanging over our heads. Instead, we can boast in the double portion of goodness and joy and freedom God freely gives us.

For a great video about shame, check this out. It's a bit lengthy, but totally worth it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Recipe Review: Mama Lew's Lasagna

My sweet friend Rebecca made her grandmother's lasagna for our small group a few weeks ago. Holy cow. It was phenomenal. In the past when I've had homemade lasagna I honestly would've just preferred Stouffer's, but not this time. This homemade lasagna will never ever compare to anything frozen. 
The list of ingredients is pretty simple. Not scary at all! Love it.
The best part is it's super easy to make.

Here's the gem:

"Mama Lew's Lasagna"

1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 lg can (10.75 oz) tomato puree
1 lg can (15 oz) tomato sauce and about 1/2 can or so of water
10-12 lasagna noodles
12oz mozzarella cheese
24 oz cottage cheese 
2 gloves garlic chopped
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano (I used Italian seasoning instead of oregano & salt)
1 1/2 tsp salt
Grated Parmesan

Brown beef and onions; drain excess oil if necessary. Add tomato sauce, water, puree, garlic and seasonings. Cook about 20 minutes. (Do not need to pre-cook noodles!)
Barely cover bottom of casserole w/ sauce.

Overlap 1/2 of noodles
Layer 1/2 cottage cheese
Then 1/2 mozzarella cheese
Then 1/2 of sauce
Finish w/ generous sprinkling of Parmesan all over top.

Bake, tightly covered w. tin foil, @ 350 degrees for approximately 40-45 minutes. *Test noodles w/ knife to see if soft...depends on how "liquidy" sauce is... if you have too much water, turn the oven off and leave the dish in for another 15ish minutes to let the water evaporate.