Friday, March 29, 2013

Easy Dinner Rolls

Let me tell you what... I LOVE bread!  Actually, I love carbs.  All of them.  Yum!  So, when it comes to bread, I want to make it all the time.  The problem is just that though, the time.  Most breads (besides sweet breads) take for-ev-er to make!  And with having a full time job, I can't just start a bread at noon to have for dinner!

I found these dinner rolls on Pinterest a few weeks ago, and they boasted being fast and easy.  I checked the recipe and ingredient list and thought, what the heck!  I'll try these out.

One hour later, +5 points for Rachel +5 points for recipe!  I didn't change anything from the original recipe that I found on Plain Chicken except for the fact that I half-ed it, then made the same amount of rolls.  She suggested 12 rolls for the full version, and when I put that into my calorie counter, that came up to about 200 calories per roll!  A bit much for me.  So, I half-ed the entire recipe, still made 12 rolls, and I feel like they were a pretty good size.  The full size rolls would have been huge!  (But who doesn't love that?!)  So, here's the recipe that I use (the half-ed version).

Another note, my 7x11 pan already had something in it the day I made this batch and took the photos.  So these particular rolls were made in a muffin tin, and it worked just as well.  Also, please pardon my horrible photography and color balance.

Weeknight Dinner Rolls
Adapted from Plain Chicken
Makes 12 rolls

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water
1/6 cup oil
1 tablespoon active-dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
1 3/4 cups flour (I've used both bread flour and all-purpose with good results.)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 7x11 pan or a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the water, oil, yeast, and sugar.  Stir to combine and let rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in salt, egg white, and flour.  (I stir in the flour in a couple of small batches.  The original recipe suggested using your stand mixer... which I don't have.)
  4. Knead until the flour is mixed in and the dough is soft and smooth (about 2-3 minutes).
  5. Here's the messy part.  Divide the dough into twelve equal balls.  (I have my hubby spray my hands with cooking spray first.)  The rolls are not super pretty, but this is a recipe for easy dinner rolls, not pretty dinner rolls.
  6. Place rolls into your greased pan.  Let rest for 10 minutes or more.  (I let mine rest for 20 minutes the other day, and they were a little fluffier, but it didn't make a huge difference.)
  7. Bake in the preheated over for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Enjoy your meal with homemade rolls in less than an hour!  I've made these like three times in the past two weeks just because they're so quick and easy.  I hope you like them too!

Oh Spring Break!

I don't think I've mentioned it here before, but I am a high school teacher.  So, I'm on spring break right now.  *Sigh of contentment*

I had planned to blog like crazy over break, but I'm just having such a good time relaxing, that I keep forgetting to blog.  That, and the fact that I'm not a natural at taking pictures of my food.  I have several recipes I'd like to share, but my first inclination when I try a new recipe is to shove it in my mouth as fast a humanly possible.  So, it's usually not until whatever-it-is is gone that I think... maybe I should have taken a photo of that for the blog.  Oops.

But, I'll write up a few recipes today anyway.
 This morning, the hubs was incredibly wonderful (actually, he's been pretty darn amazing all week.  I told you, he's pretty much a pro at brownie points!) and he woke up before the crack of dawn to take me to the beach to watch the sunrise.  Now, only those of you who know Thomas will know what a special thing that was.  This is a man who has to set an alarm to wake up at 9 am every day.  So, 6:30 is the earliest he's woken up in at least a year.

So, we drove over to the beach and sat on the sand to watch the sun rise.  And it was lovely.  There is just something about greeting the day that way.  Watching it truly begin and just sitting there thankful, thinking about all the wonderful things you have during the day to come.

 After we watched the sun rise, we went to a little cafe nearby called "The Blueberry Muffin"!  I mean, does that sound like me or what?!  Se we had a delicious breakfast with some fresh, made-from-scratch muffins.  I, of course, had blueberry, and Thomas had chocolate chip (his favorite).

So, now, Thomas is napping (hehe), and I'm getting ready to go for my run!  I've been running a mile about every other day.  I've also started doing some other random exercises on the off days.  Mainly because we've been bums on spring break, sitting around the house more than usual.  And it has been lovely!

I have some major recipes to blog, and I'll have to work on those today.  Until then, Happy Friday!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Amazing Oreo Fudge Cookies!!!

O.  MY.  GOODNESS.  These cookies are AMAZING!!!

 Seriously, I think I could eat twelve.  Without noticing.  They are soooooo good!

I was looking for an Oreo recipe to throw together before Bible study last night because my hubs had just bought me some Oreos (isn't he awesome?!  He really knows the way to my heart!).  And I came across this one on Pinterest.  The recipe was not incredibly specific, and the comments did not help because several people had said that the recipe did not work out for them.  But, I was feeling adventurous, and they just looked so delicious.  And, I happened to have everything I needed already.
So, I embarked the three feet into the kitchen, phone in hand.  I didn't even bother to pin or print the recipe.  (Which was a mistake because it took me forever to find it again on Pinterest!)

There were some speed bumps along the way...  The batter was so thick that I thought it was going to explode my hand mixer.  The recipe makes a TON of good sized cookies, which I was not expecting, so my bowl was incredibly too small.  And parts of my kitchen and myself ended up covered in chocolate batter.  And I burnt my tongue on a fresh-out-of-the-oven cookie.

But, it turns out, these cookies were worth those minor problems, and a bajillion more because they're that good.  Seriously!  They're like a brownie and a cookie with Oreos all rolled into one.  They are heaven!

Oreo Fudge Cookies
Adapted from Bakergirl

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

1 cup margarine
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Scant 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk chocolate chips
12-15 Oreos, roughly chopped

  1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a LARGE bowl, cream together the margarine, sugar, eggs, and vanilla with a hand mixer (or with your stand mixer if you're that fancy).
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, beating well with the mixer.  This part can get a little messy, but if you just add a little at a time, you'll most likely be fine.  The batter will get really thick by the time all of the flour mixture is incorporated.
  5. Chop the Oreos and stir Oreos and chocolate chips into the mixture by hand.  This takes a little elbow grease!
  6. (If your dough is really soft, you may want to place it in the fridge for a few minutes before continuing.)  Roll the dough into 2tablespoon-sized balls and place about 2 inches apart on the parchment-lined baking sheets.  Flatten slightly with your hand.  (My hands got really messy here, but it just gave me the chance to try some dough right before I washed my hands thoroughly!)
  7. Bake for 9-11 minutes.  Cookies will flatten and spread slightly.  Let cool on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls {Lundi Little Lovelies}

I don't know what cooking or baking went on in your childhood, but my mom was always in the kitchen.  While I was growing up, we had a home cooked meal at the dinner table as a family almost every single night.  So naturally, Mom developed a lot of cooking traditions for our family.  There are so many recipes of hers that I have that are associated with special events and memories.  And I treasure all of them.

One in particular, is Mom's homemade cinnamon rolls.  These are divine!  And to me, they are not only a delicious morning treat, they are a trip back in time to every Christmas morning I've ever had.  Since before I can remember, Mom's Christmas morning tradition has been to have hot cinnamon rolls and sausage balls for breakfast.  The order of events varied from year to year, but we would always wake up at the crack of dawn, open presents, and sit around the table eating cinnamon rolls and sausage balls.  So this recipe is particularly special to me even when you set aside the fact that the cinnamon rolls are just to die for!

For a teensy bit more back story, I asked my mom where she got this recipe, and she said that it is adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from way back in the day.  I've checked my updated Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that my mom bought me a few years ago, and either they changed the recipe, or my mom did quite a bit of adapting.

Oh, and if you're wondering why a couple of mine look a little funny, that's because I chopped up some apple and added it to some of the rolls too.  Yummy!

So, without further delay... Homemade Cinnamon Rolls!

1 cup milk
1 egg
4 tablespoons margarine, softened
3 1/3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1/8 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

  1. If you have a bread maker, put all of the ingredients in the pan as your bread maker prefers (just check a similar recipe for order of ingredients) and program it for dough.  This is how I make mine, because it takes a lot less work.
  2. If you do not have a bread maker (go buy one!), add yeast to 2 cups of bread flour in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add warmed milk, egg, and softened margarine, and mix thoroughly for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the 1/3 cup sugar, the rest of the bread flour, and salt, and mix thoroughly.
  5. Knead dough on a floured surface.
  6. Place into a greased bowl and cover with a cloth.  Let it rise for 1 hour in a draft-free area.
  7. When the dough is finished rising, divide it in half.
  8. Roll each half into a rectangle (approximately 15 inches by 10 inches) on a lightly floured surface.
  9. Spread margarine liberally over the dough.  The more the better in my opinion.
  10. For the filling:  combine the 1/8 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a small bowl.  I always add a little extra cinnamon because we all know how addicted to it I am!
  11. Sprinkle the mixture over the buttered dough.
  12. Starting at the long side, roll the dough up tightly.
  13. Cut off the very ends of the dough, then cut into 12 slices and place in a greased glass baking dish.
  14. Cover and let rise for one hour.
  15. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until slightly browning on top.
Now, before we continue, I know what you're thinking... I'm supposed to wake up THREE HOURS before I want breakfast to make these things?!  Heck no!  BUT WAIT!  Here's the trick my mom always uses, and now I do too.  I do steps 1-13 the night before.  Once you've got the cinnamon rolls in the pan and all ready for the last rise, cover them tightly with plastic wrap and store them in the fridge.  The next morning, pull them out, take off the plastic wrap and cover them with a towel to let them rise before baking.  I always put them on the stove and preheat the oven so that they get a little extra heat from that.  It makes everything so much easier the morning you want to eat them!

Lastly, I like my cinnamon rolls with a little icing, so I came up with this cream cheese drizzle to put on top of them!

2-3 ounces cream cheese, softened (I always use 1/3 less fat)
Several drops vanilla
1/8 cup milk
Powdered sugar

  1. Combine the softened cream cheese, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl.
  2. Add powdered sugar about a 1/4 cup at a time until you get a consistency you like.  I like mine thick enough to pipe on and hold its shape, but you can make it really runny to just plop on top of your rolls too.  This one's really up to you!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Love and Respect"

Tonight I am feeling very contented.  What a wonderful feeling!

Thomas and I have had a really great weekend, and spring break starting doesn't hurt.  But as I get ready for bed, after having spent some wonderful time with my husband this weekend, I feel so blessed and, well, contented.

Over the past few weeks, Thomas and I have been reading Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs, and it has been doing a major overhaul on our relationship.  Now, don't get me wrong, we have a great relationship, and we are happily married.  But, we are two human beings with sinful natures, so things can always get better.  We've had it particularly rough for about a year or so, and we've gone through some challenges that have been testing us and our relationship.

So, when I was venting to a friend whom I regard as a wonderful Christian mentor a while back, she suggested that I read Love and Respect.  I'd heard of it and knew the main premise of the book, but I'd never read it.  So, I bought it and started reading.  And just about a day later, Thomas started reading it too.

Woooo!  It has been a kick in the pants!  It is a really tough book to read.  The concepts are simple, but challenging.  Sometimes I have to stop and take a break from it because I'm feeling so convicted or like such a failure.  But, it has made a huge difference!  God has really been working on both of us through this book.

And that is so evident in the weekend we had.  Saturday, I made breakfast; we ate on the porch in the beautiful Florida weather; we spent the morning on the beach; lazed around in the afternoon; I made homemade cinnamon rolls in the evening.  And today, we went to church, played a ton of games of cards, and this evening, we went on a walk and talked and talked and talked.

We've talked more about our relationship than we hardly ever have (even though we've always been really open with each other).  And this weekend, I feel like all of our hard work is starting to pay off.  We still haven't even finished the book, and we're never going to be perfect, but we are taking steps in a great direction.

So as I get ready for bed (and lavish in the thought that I don't have to work tomorrow), I feel so incredibly blessed and contented.  The Lord has given me so much, most of all, a wonderful man to share the rest of my life with.  And I am perfectly happy with that!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I Was Featured!!!

Hey guys!  So, I was just looking around on some of the link parties I participate in and realized that one of my recipes was featured!  Yay!!!  Thanks Jackie!

Check out my Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Muffins on!!!

You should also link up on this week's Tried and True recipe link party!  Fun fun!  Check out my Where I Party page to see the other link parties I like!

Woohoo!  Two posts in one night!  I'm almost making up for my weekend hiatus!

You're Never Gonna Believe This! {Wednesday Wins}

I'll bet you'd never be able to guess what my Wednesday Win is for this week! 

I just ran a mile!!!  Without stopping!!!  In nine minutes!!!  Yeah, really!!!

O my gosh!  I am so pumped right now!  (For those of you who don't know, that will have been my first all running mile since my freshman year of high school... 10 years ago!)  So, yeah, that's pretty awesome!  I went out for the run tonight and thought, eh, let's see if I can do this.  And I did!  I'm so proud!  Can't you tell?!

So, if that's not a Wednesday Win, then I just don't know what is!

So anyway, you've had to wait a while for another recipe, so I'll throw this one in here too!  I just made these muffins on Sunday (or maybe Monday, I can't really remember).  And they are TO DIE FOR!!!

AND... They're healthy!  Wow!  Double whammy!  I originally found this recipe on Six Sisters' Stuff, but I've seen it several other places too.  I'm not sure who came up with the original recipe, but someone should find them and give them a medal!

The recipe said to make 24 muffins (and they would be 58 calories each), but I only got 18 from the batter.  So, the calories per muffin will depend on how big you want your muffins to be!  (With my 18 muffins, they were about 75 calories per.)

Healthy Double Chocolate Muffins
Adapted from Six Sisters' Stuff
(Makes 12-24 muffins)
1-3/4 cup old fashioned oats
3 egg whites
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or regular plain low fat yogurt)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot water
1 cup sugar substitute
1/2 cup chocolate chips  (I always use milk chocolate.)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with FOIL cupcake liners, or spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.  ***Do NOT use regular cupcake liners unless you like licking your muffins off of them.
  • In a blender (or food processor), mix all of the ingredients together, except for the chocolate chips. Blend until oats are ground and mixture is smooth.
  • Divide batter into muffin tins.  How full you fill the tins will decide how big your muffins will be.  Then, distribute the chocolate chips on top of each muffin.
  • Bake muffins in the 350 degree oven for about 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Allow muffins to cool before removing from pan.
  • Try not to eat them all in one sitting!!!
 So, moral of the story:  go bake these muffins right now!

Do you have any Wednesday Wins to share?!  I'd love to hear about them!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Oh Pinterest!

Well, this week has been B-U-S-Y!!!  I don't know about you, but I am so glad tomorrow is Friday!

I am trying a few new recipes this weekend, and I can't wait to see how they turn out and share them with you!  Unfortunately, there has been no baking in the last few days... Mainly because Thomas and I are still trying to make a dent in the muffin stash in the freezer!

Well, is anyone else out there addicted to Pinterest?!  I am always finding new recipes that I want to adapt and try on Pinterest, but I didn't know how addicted I would get when I set up my account.  Because of my lack of foresight, I have only one food board with about a billion pins on it.

So now, when I want to try that recipe that I pinned, it takes me FOREVER to find it!  So, fyi, I am currently in the process of reorganizing my food boards.  In case you see some really weird pinning activity, that's why.  I'm trying to get all of the like recipes on the same board.  Whew!  It's a chore too!

On a high note, I walked and jogged 2 miles in 24 minutes tonight!  Woohoo!  No snickering from those of you who are runners.  I only ran a half mile, so I was haring along walking at about 4.5 miles an hour.  Have you ever tried walking at that speed?  It's some pretty intense walking right there!

This wonderful exercise also allowed me to eat a monster cookie and banana pudding for dessert tonight!  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!

Have a great night!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Apple Cinnamon Scones

This recipe is one of my all time favorites!  I first made these over a year ago and fell in love with them!  These scones are so moist, sweet, and delicious.  Honestly, you have to taste them to believe it.  They're amazing!  I haven't tried any substitutions with the cream yet, but when I do, I'll let you know what I think.

Apple Cinnamon Scones
Adapted from Midwest Living
Makes about 18 scones (about 125 calories each)

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar (or sugar substitute for less calories)
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold margarine, cut into pieces
1 cup finely chopped apple (I always use Fuji because they're my favorite, but varieties such as Jonagold and Braeburn would work too.)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup whipping cream (could use a healthier substitute)
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 tablespoon whipping cream
18 thin slices of apple
More cinnamon
More sugar

  1. You can make these on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or in paper lined muffin tins.  I do both ways.  Prepare your baking sheet/tins.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. Using a pastry blender or a fork, cut in the butter until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.  Stir in 1 cup finely chopped apple.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the 3/4 cup whipping cream with the 2 slightly beaten eggs.  Add the wet mixture to the large bowl, and mix until just combined.  (Sometimes I just have to mix it with my hands to incorporate it all without over mixing.)
  5. Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop the dough into mounds on your baking sheet or in muffin tins.
  6. In a small bowl (I always use the same one I used earlier), combine the 1 tablespoon whipping cream and the egg yolk.  Stir.  Brush lightly over the dough mounds.
  7. Place an apple slice on each dough mound and flatten the dough slightly.  Then brush the tops again with the cream/egg mixture.
  8. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
  9. Bake in the 375 degree oven for 15-17 minutes until the tops are slightly brown.
  10. Cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
These will stay fresh at room temperature for a few days, but if you want to keep them longer, you can refrigerate or freeze them and then reheat them in the microwave.

They go really well with butter, honey, more cinnamon and sugar, you name it, and it's probably delicious!  But watch out, they're addicting and everyone will ask you for the recipe!
Happy baking!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cinna-Muffins {Lundi Little Lovelies}

 Happy Monday's-almost-over!

I've got a couple of little lovelies to share tonight!  Parts of this weekend were rough, but there were some really good points too!

Yesterday I had breakfast, breakfast, breakfast, and dessert!  Yep, you read that right!  I had breakfast for all three meals yesterday!  Yummy!  I had Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Muffins for breakfast, the cinna-muffins I'm about to share and sausage, egg, and cheese muffins for lunch, and a delicious Craker Barrel meal for dinner.  As it also turns out, I had six muffins of various types to eat yesterday!  Haha!  I also made some delicious chocolate covered strawberry cupcakes for bible study too!  (They tasted great but were incredibly ugly as it turned out, so no picture of them.)  So, basically, yesterday was a pretty perfect food day!

Thomas took me to Cold Stone on the beach for some ice cream tonight!  Yay!!!  So, here was my view while I was eating my delicious cheesecake wonderfulness!
And little lovely number three is these Cinna-Muffins!  Don't they look delicious?!  Oh, believe me, they are!

I found the original recipe on Redfly Creations via Pinterest.  The recipe was for a version of Amish Cinnamon bread.  And since I don't the starter for Amish bread or the patience to wait however-many-days to make it, this recipe sounded perfect for me!

So, I settled down to make a few changes and bake up these bad boys!  Here's my version!  Enjoy!

Adapted from Redfly Creations
Makes 12 muffins

1/4 cup margarine, softened
1/4 unsweetened applesauce
1 cup sugar (I used a sugar substitute for less calories.)
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 cup sugar (I used real sugar for the topping)
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Stir together the milk and vinegar, set aside.
  2. Blend the margarine, applesauce, 1 cup sugar and egg together.
  3. Add the milk mixture, flour, and baking soda.  Mix until combined.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the 1/3 cup sugar and cinnamon.
  5. Fill a regular sized muffin pan with paper baking cups.  Fill all 12 cups with half of the batter.
  6. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture onto the batter in each cup.  You should use about 2/3 to 3/4 of the mixture here.  It will look like too much, and that's ok.
  7. Distribute the rest of the batter into each muffin cup, then sprinkle the rest of the cinnamon sugar on top of each muffin.
  8. (Here's where it gets messy.)  Using a knife, swirl the muffins to mix up the cinnamon sugar and batter.
  9. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Cool for 10-15 minutes before eating.  (If you eat them right away, they will stick to the baking cups like crazy.  I couldn't help myself though.)
Slather on some butter and enjoy!!!  They're quite delicious and have a wonderful texture like Amish bread.
Do you have any little lovelies you'd like to share?!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Our God is Greater {Part 2}

So, I wrote last week that God had been speaking to me through the Chris Tomlin song, "Our God."  And I've listened to that song several times since then.

So, before I tell the story, you need a little explanation.  I've been going through a pretty rough time for a while.  For some reasons I'd rather not share on the internet at this point, my life has been pretty hard.  I've been struggling emotionally with many areas of my life.  It's taken a toll on me, on Thomas' and my relationship, on my spiritual life.  And I've really had trouble believing that God is looking at me with love.  Mostly, I feel like a whiny, selfish child, and so I feel like God sees me like that.

But, anyway.  I've been praying really hard for some changes in my life.  And I have felt so lost.  Like I'm stumbling around in the dark begging for someone to turn on the light.  Feeling like, if only I was good enough, surely God would turn on the light for me.  I pray for God to make his will known to me.  I just want his will for my life.  I am desperate for it.  But, no matter how much I pray, I still feel lost.

I'm terrified that I will miss God's will.  That I will miss something amazing that he has planned for me.  I'm earnestly praying to do his will, but at the same time, I have no idea what that is, so how can I do it?!

So, in comes the part 2 of "Our God":

With this song continuing to recur, I was only a little surprised when I opened up the bulletin at church this morning to see that the choir song was none other than "Our God."  I promptly leaned over to Thomas and said that apparently God still wasn't done with me and that song yet.

And oh, was I right!

The song started, and I was just enjoying the music.  And then the chorus started, and it was like I could hear God speaking to me audibly through the song.  Tears flooded my eyes.  I finally GOT it.  I finally understood what God has been trying to tell me over and over again.

He is greater than my fears.  He is greater than my doubts.  He is greater than my confusion.  (I'm tearing up right now, writing this.)

If I am earnestly seeking Him and his will, He will not hide it from me.  He is not putting it under a cup and switching all the cups around to see if I'll pick the right one.  He doesn't want me to fail!  He will lay it out for me.  If I make sure my heart is open, He will not lead me astray.

I was up most of the night Saturday struggling with this problem.  And He answered my prayers in full force on Sunday morning.  Hallelujah!  I feel more peace about this than I have in a long, long time.

Now, I will say that it still bugs me that I don't know what his will is yet.  And I can almost guarantee I will have more times of doubt.  But I have peace knowing that He will lead me, and I will follow.

I pray that whatever you are going through right now, that God will reveal his greatness, love, faithfulness, and peace to you in whatever way you need.

Sunday Fun Day: Just Some

I thought I'd share a funny childhood story of mine this week.

I never really liked cooking or baking as a child.  I was always so terrified that I was going to mess something up, and then everything would be ruined.

Part of this frustration came from cooking with my mom.  She'd ask me to help with dinner, etc.  And if there was not recipe, I would have to ask her what to do every step of the way.  (Even to cook things as easy as spaghetti noodles.  I was pretty helpless.)

And inevitably, we would come to a point in the recipe when I would ask how much of something to add and the answer would be, "Oh, I don't know... Just some."  ...Um, ok.  So, what do you mean some?  "Well, I don't measure it.  Just pour some in."

What?!  What in the world does some mean?  A little, a lot?  The whole bottle?  Just a pinch?  I had absolutely no idea as to what she wanted me to get from "just some".

It drove me bananas!  I hated that part of cooking because I was terrified to mess our entire family dinner up.  So, I'd have to get her to come over and watch me pour whatever-it-was in.  And sometimes I got, "yeah, that's good." but sometimes it felt like, "NO, NO, NO, not that much!!!"  Mom was never mean about it, but the "just some" made me crazy.

How was I ever supposed to learn to cook if I never knew what I was doing?  Besides the fact that mom had to stand over my shoulder and watch me fumble around when she could have clearly done it faster and easier without me.

Don't get me wrong though, my mom and I had some great times in the kitchen.  My favorite memory is the first time she/we made Texas sheet cake.  And, as it turned out, the pan was too small.  And we poured the (liquid) icing on the cake only to have it run off the sides, onto the counter, down the cabinets, and onto the floor.  I remember laughing so hard trying to mop all of that icing up.

But, the point of the story is, I have now become the cooker/baker that I hated as a child.  I am coming into a love of trying new things.  But I am also trying so many new things that sometimes I get lazy and stop using the recipe.  So I start adding "just some" of this or that or whatever.  And you know, now I have to stand over Thomas' shoulder sometimes to explain to him how much "just some" means.

So, mom, I'm following in your footsteps!  So, you'll be proud to know, I am learning the full meaning of "just some".

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Getting Healthy: Thomas and Rachel Style

Hey yall!  I hope you're enjoying your Saturday!  Thomas and I are having a lazy afternoon on this beautiful, sunny Florida day!  It's been pretty cold lately, but today it's warmer so I'm sitting out on the porch with my kitty!

Today, I thought I would share about how the hubby and I are trying to be more healthy, since you're probably going to continue seeing recipes with substitutions and exciting captions like: Healthy!  Low Calorie!  Low Fat!

In the middle of January, Thomas decided he wanted to try to lose a little weight and just start maintaining a slightly healthier lifestyle.  Now, disclaimer: neither of us is insanely overweight, and we are not incredibly unhealthy to begin with.  But, he wanted to make a few changes, so of course, I jumped right on board so we could get healthier together!

He'd heard about My Fitness Pal from a friend, and since we both have iPhones, we downloaded their free app and began tracking what we eat.  Now, I won't go into a ton of details, though if you'd like some more information on My Fitness Pal, I would be more than willing to answer any questions I can.  There are things I really like about the app, and things I am not fond of, however, it is a really simple way to track your food intake and exercise.  And, it's free!  Who doesn't love that?!  Basically, the app allows you to scan the barcode of almost any food to log it, it also has an enormous database of restaurant foods, etc. to choose from.  And, possibly the thing I use most, is the recipe creator.  You can scan all the ingredients you use to make a recipe, put in the amounts, etc. and save the recipe to the app.  I love this feature because it makes it soooo easy to accurately track the food that we eat at home, since we don't eat out for every meal.

To get started with the app, you put in information such as: gender, height, current weight, goal weight, how many pounds you'd like to lose per week, lifestyle type (sedentary, lightly active, etc.).  Then, My Fitness Pal pops out the number of calories you should be eating each day, and you're all ready to go.  It also keeps track of nutrients like all the kinds of fat, carbs, sugar, protein, and some vitamins and minerals.

Here's the worst part of the whole thing:  the first week!  We honestly had no idea how out of control our portions were.  Obviously, this is a problem with America in general, but WOW!  I can't believe how many calories we were eating each day.  I also can't believe that I was not incredibly overweight!  So, the first week was horrible!  We were starving and grouchy because we had cut our calorie intake so drastically.  But, we started getting used to eating much smaller meals, and now, I find myself filling up so much more quickly.

That has been the biggest change we've made to get healthy.  Cutting down the portions.  If you can do that, you can lose weight.  Period, end of story.

But here's the tough spot... I LOVE dessert.  And when I say love, I mean that I could marry dessert.  I quite honestly wish that breakfast and dessert were the only meals of the day.  So, from the beginning, Thomas and I decided that we weren't going to cut out foods that we love because we could never stick to the plan if that was the case.  I know I would have quit within a week.  So, we still eat fast food; I still have dessert almost every night; I obviously still bake.  But, now I'm trying to make my recipes a little less fattening and have a little less calories.  But we definitely still eat unhealthy foods, we just eat smaller portions of them.

Part 2:  We've started exercising on a more regular basis.  We started out with just walking more.  But, then I went crazy, and we started running.  (And I'll let you all in on a little secret... Running really means jogging, and we only jog about half a mile or a little bit more.  We're slowing inching it up.  But I haven't run a mile since my freshman year of high school, so you can imagine that half a mile is a challenge for me.)  But honestly, this hasn't changed my weight nearly as much as changing the amount of calories I eat did.  I could probably still be losing tons of weight; however, when you add exercise into the My Fitness Pal app, you get some calories back since you burned some.  So I really just see that as an opportunity to eat a slightly larger dessert!

Tracking your calories and exercise does feel like a ball and chain some days, but Thomas and I have really been enjoying the changes we're seeing in ourselves and each other!  It's great to see tangible results so quickly since we created a plan we could live with and stuck to it.

I will say though, losing weight without a buddy would be nearly impossible.  There have been so many times I would have quit if not for Thomas.  Doing it with a friend gives you an encourager, a helper, a cheerleader.  It also really helps that we live together and therefore eat the same food.  It would have been really bad if one of us was eating second and third helpings when the other couldn't.  Talk about torture!

So, are you feeling inspired to try something new?!  Just so you know, my top spiritual gift is exhortation (encouragement), so I'd love to hear your story and encourage you in anyway I can!

I know it's corny, but if I can do it, you can do it!

Happy getting healthy!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Muffins

Woohoo!  It's Hump Day!  Halfway through the week!  Yay!

This is the first five day week I've worked in two weeks, so I'm getting tired!  Work has been pretty stressful lately, and this morning was one of those times when I just felt like I couldn't go on.  But, I got through the day, only thanks to the Lord's strength, and got energized again by cooking up some apple cinnamon scones... Yummy!  They are one of my favorite recipes, and tonight I found out that they're sooooo much easier to make now that I've got a nifty chopper!  But, I'll keep you waiting in suspense for that recipe.

Tonight, its Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Muffins!  Yum yum!  (I think I'm on a muffin kick... can you tell?!)  I found this recipe on Pinterest, and since it was already pretty healthy, I didn't have to do much adapting to make them even healthier!  So, depending on how closely you follow the recipe and how many raisins you add, these come in at about 100 calories and half a gram of fat per muffin!  Not bad, eh?!

Thanks to Christie from Taste of the Sisterhood: Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans for posting the original recipe!  Here's my version.  (Also, my muffin tin is a little bigger than normal, so my muffins always look a little small.  Have no fear, they're just shorter and fatter than most muffins.  And, these muffins were not baked in paper muffin cups and I feel like they were just a little over done/hard on the bottom, so that's why I suggest using the cups.)

Also, can you believe, that with all the muffin makin' I do, I only own ONE muffin tin?!  I know, I'm severely deprived!  ;)

Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Muffins
Adapted from: Taste of the Sisterhood

*** Update (3-9-13) - I ate these this morning for breakfast with some honey drizzled on them, and they were HEAVENLY!  So good that I will probably add some honey to the recipe next time I make them.  I just thought you'd like to know!)

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup skim milk
1 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
more cinnamon

  1. Combine the oats and milk.  Let soak for an hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper baking cups.
  3. Combine the oat and milk mixture with the vanilla and applesauce in a mixing bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together.
  5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Don't over mix.
  6. Stir in the raisins.  I have no idea how many I added, I just added some until I thought there was a good amount.  It's totally up to you!
  7. Divide batter into the twelve muffin cups.
  8. Sprinkle with more cinnamon.  Don't you just love cinnamon!
  9. Bake for 20 -25 minutes, until muffins are slightly colored on top.
 Mmmmm!  I've still got some of these in the freezer from the weekend!  I've been baking so much, that right now, I just let them cool, throw them in baggies in twos, and pop them in the freezer so I know they won't go bad.  Then, you just have to heat 'em up and slather on just a tad of butter.  Yum!!!!!!!
Also, for those of you who're wondering... we're still running!  We took a little break over the weekend to recoop, but we're back at it!  Woohoo!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday Fun Day: Patty Cake Cats

I saw this on the internet the other day, and I just love it.

This is what happens when you get some high school guys together.  They wander onto youtube and make voices for a video of cats playing patty cake.  Lol!

So, there's just a little something fun to make you laugh!
Happy Sunday Fun Day!

Melt in your Mouth Peanut Butter Cookies

I know what you're thinking... yeah, right!  Peanut butter cookies can't melt in your mouth!  It's against their DNA.  They're made to be soaked in milk and STILL scratch your throat on the way down to your belly.

But, NOPE!  Not these! These babies literally melt in your mouth.  Even after they've cooled.  Even the next day.  They're delicious!!!

I found these on Pinterest, because with all the crunchy peanut butter cookie recipes out there, I'm always looking for a better recipe.  This, combined with the fact that Thomas doesn't really like peanut butter cookies (so I don't fix them often), means that I rarely make the same recipe twice.  But don't get me wrong.  I LOVE peanut butter cookies.  Like, really, L-O-V-E!

And usually, I'm not a fan of chocolate chips in my peanut butter cookies because it just distracts from the peanut buttery goodness.  But the photos on Averie Cooks (where the original recipe came from) convinced me that the chocolate was worth it in these cookies.  And she's got like a billion mouth-watering, melty goodness pictures with the recipe.  You should really go look at them.  All you have to do is click here to be transported to cookie-photo bliss.

However, I did not have the delicious looking chocolate chunks she used when I wanted to whip this recipe up, so I used mini semi-sweet chips.  And I love these cookies.  But now I'm wishing I had kept some without chocolate chips because I'm dying to know what they taste like without the chocolatey distraction.  But, there is definitely a next time for these cookies.  I will make them again.  Which, obviously, is saying a lot about them!

So, here you go!

Melt in your Mouth Peanut Butter Cookies
(This recipe is closely adapted from Averie Cooks.)

Yield: 16 medium cookies (I made mine smaller, and it yielded about 24.)

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces semi-sweet, dark, or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips may be substituted)


In a mixing bowl, combine peanut butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, and stir until well-combined and the sugar is fully incorporated.

Add the baking soda and beat to incorporate. Stir in chocolate; don't overmix. Transfer dough to airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 5 days, before baking.

Preheat oven to 350F, line 2 baking sheets with parchment; set aside. Using a cookie scoop or your hands (which is what I had to do), form the dough into balls and space about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Flatten the dough a little before popping them into the oven.

Bake for 8 to10 minutes, until edges are set and tops are barely set, even if slightly underbaked in the center. She mentioned to make sure you don't bake them over 10 minutes so that they don't get crunchy. So I took mine out between 8 and 9 minutes, and they were perfect. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 to 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a rack to finish cooling. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

YUM YUM!!! These things are delicious!

Friday, March 1, 2013

"Our God is Greater" (Hold on to Your Hat, We're Getting Deep!)

"Our God is greater,
our God is stronger, 
God, you are higher than any other.
Our God is healer, 
awesome in power, 
Our God.
Our God."
Lyrics from "Our God" by Chris Tomlin

As I sat down at the computer just now, praying and wondering if I even had anything to blog about tonight, "Our God" by Chris Tomlin came on Pandora.  And I have just been so blessed by this Pandora station the past few days.  I feel like God has been speaking to me through the worship music.  It's been a great reminder of who is in control.

I've also been reading through Numbers in my bible study, and though parts of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are not really page-turners, God has still been speaking to me.  I feel like it is so easy to judge the Israelites.  When I read these books, sometimes I'm literally talking to my bible like: What the heck are you guys doing?!  God brought you out of slavery!  You saw the cloud on the mountain and Moses' radiant face like a week ago and now you're building an altar to a cow?!  What do you mean you don't want to go to the awesome land God promised you???  It's right there!  What are you stinkin' afraid of?!  You've got a cloud that holds the King of the universe in your camp like all the time?  Why would you doubt God???

And then, I remember that I'm doing the

God gives me an amazing blessing, and then a little later, I'm wondering where my next blessing is, thinking that maybe this wasn't a blessing after all.  Maybe I should have just stayed where I was in the first place.  Oh God, why did you give me this blessing?  I was so much better off before!  But, that's not true.

It is so hard to remember that we see only a fraction of the puzzle.  I feel like I've got a tiny little funky shaped piece that's never going to fit in anywhere.  But God knows it does.  And only He knows how wonderfully and perfectly it will fit with what has been and what is to come.

And so, in trying to be content, I am striving to remember that God knows better.  God is greater and stronger than my weaknesses and faults; He is stronger than my circumstances; He is greater than my mind can ever fathom. 

"Our God is greater, our God is stronger."