Monday, December 29, 2008

Recipe of the Week - Creamy Chicken Italian

Posting an old favorite this week...given 5 stars by several of my friends who've either had it at my house or made it for their families :0) You can make it as light and healthy as you need with reduced fat or fat-free cream cheese, and some people add either mushrooms or other fresh veggies.

Creamy Chicken Italian

8 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 package dry Italian dressing
1/4 cup water
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 can cream of chicken soup

Place chicken in greased slow cooker
combine salad dressing and water. Pour over chicken
Cover. Cook on low for 4-5 hours
In saucepan, combine cream cheese and soup. Heat slightly to melt cream cheese. Pour over chicken.
Cover. Cook 1 additional hour on low
Serve over noodles or rice

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to All...and to All a Good Night

Nothing really happening here, but I wanted to wish all of you a wonderful Christmas.

May you reflect today on the GLORY of the birth of a King.
May your homes be filled with dancing and joyful SONGS.
May the SPIRIT that is Christmas fill your heart and mind, and may you radiate Christ's love to all you meet.

Stay safe, stay blessed, and stay joyful


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Recipe of the Week -- Peppermint Bark

Let me just get this out: I LOVE Peppermint Bark. Especially from Williams-Sonoma. Unfortunately, I don't love their price. Soooo...I searched several recipes until I found one that claimed to taste just like it and seemed simple to make. I have to say--not only do *I* love this recipe, A's whole family is a fan...and they're a tough audience!

Peppermint Bark

10 oz chocolate chips
12 oz white chocolate chips
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
3-4 peppermint candy canes, crushed

Heat oven to 250. Line a 9x13 pan with foil, letting it hang over the sides. Spray foil. Pour the chocolate chips in an even layer on the foil. Place in oven for 5 minutes or until almost melted. Remove from oven, smooth with an offset spatula
or knife. Place in refrigerator until cold and firm, about 20 minutes.
Melt white chocolate chips in microwave at medium power for 1 minute.
Stir until completely melted, stirring in extract. Pour this over chocolate layer, and, working quickly, spread to cover. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.
Chill until both layers are firm. (I let it chill for about 30 minutes to an hour) Lift foil out of pan and shake off excess candy. Trim edges. Cut into 2” wide strips. Peel bark from foil and cut each strip as desired. Chill in covered container. Makes about 2 pounds.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thursday's Ten

Ten very interesting websites for your holiday perusal...

(awful nativities)

(I have to wonder how much business they have...)

(ok, it's just one of my favorites. Makes me laugh out loud nearly every time I'm there)

(what list of interesting sites would be complete without it?)

(just in case you're interested in the best and worst toilets of the UK)

(wouldn't it be nice if this worked...and just in case, I ordered sun for TN tomorrow. We haven't seen it in days.)

(does anyone actually DO inkblots anymore? but it's kinda cool)

(this came in handy when I was teaching. if my students wouldn't do what I asked at least the chicken would. He did, however misunderstand me when I typed in "downward facing dog". try it. it's not the yoga pose...)

(unfortunate website names)

(LOVE these)

and if you need more, here's some award winners:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Notes to Tennesseans on "Winter" Weather

Yes. When you got to your car this morning there probably was ice on your windshield. This came from the literal freezing rain overnight. No, the can of de-icer you bought to get rid of the pesky frost didn't really cut it. Neither did the flimsy scraper on that can. You've got to use a REAL scraper and the "defrost" option on your car coupled with windshield wipers on high. This does mean that you have to plan time to get the ice off. It's gonna take longer than the 2 minutes you normally spend de-icing the frost.

Just because there was ice on the car does not mean there is ice on the roads. This, in all likelihood, means that you can travel at a normal pace on...say, the interstate.

When it begins raining again at 11 am, but is 37 degrees outside, you can certainly drive at a normal rain pace. Rain does not freeze at nearly 40 degrees, people. And it most certainly won't create a massive freeze-out all of a sudden. Stop driving at 20 miles per hour as if you are anticipating a sudden sheet of ice to encompass the road and your car. That's not how it works.

Ice does not equal snow. Snow does not equal ice.

Furthermore, stop riding your brake in expectation of finding that one patch of ice. Be thankful it actually ISN'T there...because if it were, riding the brake would be the sure way to skid and cause a collision. You don't HAVE brakes on ice.

We don't have true winter weather here. It's cold. We've had snow AND ice this year--woo!--but seriously? Boston. New York. Chicago. THEY have winter weather. And the kids go to school through it all...amazing.

The grocery stores and gas stations truly appreciate your business, but you might want to spread it out a little. Flooding the gas station for when a snow is predicted just may cause another gas shortage. Please don't do that. Most of you don't want to drive in the snow anyway. And going to the grocery store for milk, bread and eggs...unless you're truly out of them or want to make french toast, don't bother. The snow/ice will really only last a few hours and then you can go back to Publix to do your grocery shopping for the week.

Ahhh. Ok. I feel better.

Recipe of the Week -- Pinwheels

This week I'm pulling out an old recipe from me--I've made this since high school and it's been highly requested as a repeat from *everyone* I've made it for. Yay for lots of cream cheese and ranch goodness :) And yay for EASY!

Everybody's Favorite Pinwheels

package of flour tortillas (8-10)
2 packages of cream cheese
1 package of Hidden Valley Ranch Original Salad Dressing mix (not the dip or buttermilk recipe!)1 slice of onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 small can of sliced black olives

Soften cream cheese and combine with ranch dressing mix and onions. Spread the mixture evenly over the tortillas. Sprinkly the celery and black olives over them, and then roll up like a burrito. wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Slice into small pinwheel shapes and serve!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Thursday's Ten

Little different today--ten Scriptures that I love (and believe me, it was hard to narrow them down!)

I wear a necklace most days with the words "faith" and "love" on it. This verse is the reason:
Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.
(Proverbs 3:3)

LaJuana "gave" me this verse when I was first realizing that I was being led out of teaching. It's a familiar one, but it's been a wonderful reminder:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

This one I found in the middle of one of those Psalms I kind of hate to read, and skim over--one that was lamenting all that was going wrong, etc. But this verse was right in the middle of it all, and what came after it was nothing but praise.
But then I recall all you have done, O Lord. (Psalm 77:11)
That one really got to me, because sometimes I have that tendency to think that the problem I'm facing is bigger than anything I've ever gone through before...and then I realize that if God can get me through what He's already brought me through, why am I doubting that this will be any different?

I just love the imagery in this one:
For the Lord your God is living among you, He is a mighty savior
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
(Zephaniah 3:17)

You, oh Lord, are a shield around me; You are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
(Psalm 3:3)
I fell in love with that verse through a song we sing at my church, and just love the picture it creates. The song actually uses another translation as it's basis and says "You're my glory, you're the lifter of my head."

One of the wisest women I know shares this verse with us a lot (I think she's hoping it will sink in!)
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for what he's done. (Phillipians 4:6)
but my favorite is the verse that follows:
Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. (4:7)

Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for him to act (Psalm 37:7)
(yeah. not something I'm excellent at quite yet!)

I get a lot of joy out of this one--actually believing it

He rescued me because He delights in me! (Psalm 18:19)

This one was a few verses away from our call to worship last week and it just leapt off the page at me:
I cry out to the Lord,
I plead for the Lord's mercy.
I pour out my complaints before him
and tell him my troubles.
When I am overwhelmed,
you alone know the way I should turn.
(Psalm 142:1-3)

I really could go on forever, but I'll stop with this one...I love the picture of a God who longs for us to have conversation with Him.
My heart has heard you say, "Come and talk with me."
And my heart responds, "Lord, I am coming."
(Psalm 27:8)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Monday Memory

This is another piece I wrote, this time back in '06. We were supposed to put ourselves into a story during a church leaders retreat, and this is what poured out into my journal. I had the most *real* sense of Christ twirling me in the air...

Matthew 10:13-17People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.(NIV)

I smell the fragrance of the flowers as I skip through the meadow. I know there is need to hurry, but I stop anyway and make flower jewelry. I find the most beautiful purple flowers which I weave carefully into a necklace.

My mother comes back and scolds me. We can’t miss this, you shouldn’t be wasting time. I can feel a tear trying to make its way to my eye, but I will it back knowing that if my mother sees it there will be more scolding.

We continue walking and I clutch my precious necklace to my chest, inhaling the sweetest of perfumes. This is my new treasure.

When we reach the place I stand in awe looking at all the people. In the middle of the crowd is a man, surrounded by some of the other children from my village. He looks towards me and I can feel the welcoming kindness in his eyes.Suddenly I’m running, not caring anymore if my mother minds. The grass tickles my bare feet as I dance around him, laughing and squealing with delight along with the other children. I can’t remember when I’ve felt so much joy!

Somewhere in the distance of my mind I hear some men who seem irritated at all of us. I’m not really hearing them or paying attention to what they are saying until the kind man says “Stop! Let the children come to me.”

He looks at me tenderly as I gaze back at him. He brushes my hair back from my face and strokes my cheek as he says “I tell you that anyone who doesn’t receive the kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it.”

I have no idea what he is talking about, but I can feel the power and love from this kindest of strangers. His eyes twinkle as he looks at me and then he picks me up in his arms and twirls me in the air until I feel as if I am soaring with the eagles. I feel my hair lift and fly in the air as well and I giggle. When he puts me down he again touches my cheek and smiles.

I hardly know what I am doing until I have already lifted my treasure, my beautiful necklace, from around my own neck. It will never fit him, but I place it on his head just like a crown. For just a moment I see something else flash in his eyes—sadness?—but then he hugs me close again and kisses my forehead. I feel something inside that I have never felt before and somehow I know that I will never be the same again.

It has been many years since that day but I often think about Jesus and all the things that happened after that day. Sometimes I think of the next crown he wore and I cry. But I never pass a meadow without stopping and smiling as I remember the most wonderful of days. And when I find some beautiful purple flowers I make another necklace, just because.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thursday's Ten

Ten Things I Love in December

1. Celebrating Advent
2. The occasional flake of snow (and down here it's a precious and rare commodity)
3. Seeing everyone's beautiful decorations
4. Hearing the holiday music
5. Seeing generosity
6. Christmas specials on tv
7. Decorating
8. Wrapping gifts...I LOVE it
9. Baking
10. Being with those I love

the tree this year (and Emi)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Take the Quiz! What Movie is Your Christmas Most Like?

Your Christmas is Most Like: A Charlie Brown Christmas
Each year, you really get into the spirit of Christmas.
Which is much more important to you than nifty presents.

Go here to take the quiz, and please comment with your result!>