Friday, March 30, 2012

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad. - Proverbs 12:25


On my continued journey of gluten free living, I have started to experiment with baking a bit.  I LOVE to bake and it has become a hobby for the kids and I.  While I haven’t mastered the substitution flours yet, (I have failed more than succeeded) I did research some flourless baking and this is a yummy recipe I found.  This recipe is certainly not sugar free, but free of flour and still delicious.  All three kids and Bob enjoyed the cookies too and I didn’t tell them they were flourless until AFTER they tried one….or two.  =) 





Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

 Ingredients
  • 1C Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1C Peanut Butter
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp Vanilla
  • 1C Dark Chocolate Chips
  • Granulated sugar


Directions
1. Combine and blend all ingredients excluding chocolate chips and granulated sugar until blended.     
2. Stir in dark chocolate chips until combined.
3. Roll dough into 1 ½ inch balls and lightly toss in granulated sugar to coat.   
4. Place dough balls onto cookie sheet one inch apart.  Using a fork, press down on the dough to create a crossed pattern and flatten the cookies slightly.  


5. Bake at 350 for 10 to 12 minutes or until set.  Allow to cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes then remove to wire racks or parchment paper to cool.    

This recipe makes approximately 2 dozen.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring in photo Form

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.....Song of Songs 2:11-13





Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Peepshi

The kids and I discovered Peepshi last year and had a great time creating and tasting the colorful treats.  Not only is this treat a great way to spend some time crafting and creating with your kiddos, but it is also gluten free.  I would venture to say that Peepshi would be fun to make without kids, too...and just as delicious.


Supplies
  • Several boxes of Peeps, various colors
  • Rice Krispie Treats
  • Fruit Roll Ups or Fruit by the Foot
Using the Rice Krispie Treats as rice, the Peeps as the fish, and the Fruit Rollups or Fruit by the Foot as the seaweed, you are able to create a variety of Peepshi or Peep Sushi.  Let your imagination do the creating and your taste buds do the enjoying! 

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting.  Job 8:21

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Move


The Hottest June in Years in Texas
When Abby was 5 years old, we were planning a trip to Texas to visit Abuela.  While scrambling and packing for the trip Abby helped me with my list.  Sunscreen…Check.  Books…Check.  Vitamins…Check.  Socks and underwear…Check.  Swimsuits….opps!  We almost forgot our swimsuits.   Abby then informed me, “Remember all the stuff you need because that plane won’t turn around for you.”

Just as a plane will not turn around for us to gather our forgotten items, life moves forward at all times.  There are no options to go back and redo what was done wrong, take back words that were said, or change choices that were made.  Our transgressions have happened and we cannot undo what is done.  Always looking behind us makes it difficult to see the beauty of what lies ahead.  The muck of the past can often taint the glory of the present.

Run!  No looking back!
When we board the plane and realize we forgot out swimsuit, there is nothing we can do from where we are.  The same is true in life.  When we make a mistake, we cannot undo what was done, but rather decide a solution from the here and now.  On the plane, we can fret about the missing suit, complaining about time and inconvenience, or we can quickly decide to purchase a new swimsuit when we land.  In life, we can choose to sulk about what was said, what we do not have or what should have happened or we can choose to move forward from the past to the present. 

Such Style  and Coolness
We have all made mistakes that we regret.   I have been known to have a sharp tongue that can and has cut deeper then intended.  I have the ability to hurt with my words quickly and efficiently and have done so more times that I care to admit.   I have spent many hours brooding about what I said, what I should have said and what others said.  We can never go back to the moment of impact, but we can certainly try to repair the damage.  The sooner we look at the now, the sooner things can heal.   The best part is the quicker we get out of the past the more time we have to enjoy the now.

While I enter each plane ride and each day of life, hoping to not forget my swim suit or cut with my words, mistakes happen.  It is up to us to realize that the plane will not turn around for you and neither will this life.  Move on, move forward and just MOVE!


Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you….. Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV 



Monday, March 26, 2012

Ginger and White Wine Pad Thai (Gluten Free)

Over the last seven months, I have been through numerous medical tests, long waits and a variety of doctor visits.  I have seen specialists and special specialists, often going home no closer to an answer for my constant stomach pain and nausea.  My gall bladder has been ruled out several times and I have had more radiation in my body then I care to think about.  After all these months of searching, I am finally getting closer to an answer.  After seven months, ten medical tests, over thirty pounds lost, much money spent and many tears of frustration shed, I am finally feeling like I see a solution materializing.  I was most recently diagnosed with gastroparesis, or paralyzed stomach.  Basically it takes my stomach a very long time to digest, so when food sits I get sick.  I have to eat very small meals, low in fiber and low in fat.  There is also reason to believe that I have gluten sensitivity.  Neither condition is one that will be easily fixed or go away soon, if at all.  So, the journey of learning to eat starts over for me again.  At first, the idea of these new restrictions seemed daunting, but today they seem like a wonderful challenge.  I LOVE to cook and bake and now I have new motivation to find yummy solutions to these issues.  I am also not alone at all in my new restrictions and what an awesome opportunity to share food ideas and solutions with others?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. – James 1:2-3


Ginger and White Wine Pad Thai (Gluten Free)
Foreman Style




Ingredients:
2T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4Gloves Minced Garlic
½ Red Onion, Diced
4 to 6 Asparagus Spears, Chopped
½ Red Pepper, Chopped
10 to 12 Cherry Tomatoes
1 Inch Piece of Fresh Ginger, Grated
2 Eggs, beaten
1 lb Shrimp, Peeled and Deveined (or tofu, chicken, etc)
½ Cup White Wine
1T Gluten Free Soy Sauce
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper
8 oz Box of Pad Thai Rice Noodles
Toasted Sunflower Seeds
Scallions


 

Directions:

Warm oil in pan; add garlic, onion, asparagus, red pepper, tomatoes and ginger.  While veggies are cooking, soften noodles in hot water for 8 to 10 minutes.   Add shrimp and eggs to veggies and cook until shrimp starts to turn pink and eggs are cooked, stirring to make sure eggs scramble.  Season with soy sauce, wine and seasonings and add noodles. Cook all ingredients until flavors are married being careful to not over cook noodles.  Top with sunflower seeds and scallions and enjoy!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Books and Their Covers


Today my words from above didn’t come from my kids but rather my Mom.  My mom was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis over a decade ago and the condition has deteriorated to the point that at 62 years old, she has to walk with a walker that doubles as a seat.  She has even started talking about the need to move to a wheel chair for longer days and more freedom to go places.  Imagine, a wheel chair for more freedom.  While chatting with my Mom a few days ago she mentioned to me that people will tell her she doesn’t need a walker.  When I inquired as to who would say such a thing, she told me that complete strangers would see her and tell he she didn’t need to use a walker and she looked just fine.  What gumption it would take to place such judgment on someone you don’t even know.   My Mom stands straight, but to stand for long causes her such pain that it isn’t always an option.  What does the woman in Home Depot know about my Mom’s physical and medical needs?

God created each and every one of us and though we do not look the same, sound the same or think the same we came from the same creator.  Just as we love ourselves, we are to love our neighbor and not just the person living in the same neighborhood.  Even the smelly, cranky old woman in front of you at the grocery story, yelling about your kids and how she would never tolerate that behavior, even she deserves your love.   What we don’t see about her is that she was the wife of an alcoholic that would leave in a drunken stupor after yelling about her failures and not return for days at a time, leaving her to cover up his illness and be mother and father to her children.  The young girl wearing provocative clothing, smacking her gum and speaking with foul language while bagging your groceries needs your love too.  Perhaps what we don’t see are the years of neglect she received from a father that was never there and a mother that didn’t know how to guide her into womanhood, leaving her searching for acceptance wherever it may come, finding it in some of the wrong places.  The man on the phone that snaps at you as you ask to move your appointment to another day needs your love too. What we don’t see is that the night before his fiancĂ© ended the engagement, telling him that she had found someone else, leaving him feeling lonely and worthless.   Look in the mirror, listen to your words, what would someone assume about your cover today?

It is easy to see the way someone is dressed, the way they walk, and hear the way that they talk.  Knowing what is in the hearts and minds of those that we meet is much more difficult and takes much more effort.  Today, when you are met by the angry older woman, the young girl with attitude, the short tempered man on the phone or the woman that looks like she doesn’t need a walker, I challenge you to smile or share a sweet word with them.  Remember that all appearances and attitudes may not be as they seem and it is not our place to judge what we see, but rather love our neighbor as God loves us.


"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? - Matthew 7:


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Easy as Potato Skins


The Resurrection Story
By Emily Foreman, Age 4

Jesus died for us on the cross.  The really sad thing is that some people really didn’t like Jesus.  So He died on the cross and that is no reason to cry because He died for EVERY ONE of us.  But, people did cry and the angel came and said not to because Jesus is really alive!  So we don’t have to cry, because He is ALIVE!

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”   John 14:6





Easy as Potato Skins    
   

Ingredients
  • 5-10 Potatoes
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Bacon
  • Chopped Scallions or Chives

Directions:
  • Scrub all potatoes and then cut in half lengthwise.
  • Microwave or bake in oven until insides are soft, but not mushy
  • While the potatoes are baking, cook bacon until crispy
  • Remove and allow potatoes to cool until able to handle.
  • Using a spoon, remove the inside from each potato half, reserving for another recipe later (potato soup or gnocchi work well.)

  • Fill empty halves with cheese and bacon and then broil for approx 5min on until melted and warmed through.  Sprinkle chives or scallions on top and serve with sour cream and salsa.
  • You can fill the potatoes with any number of yummy things.  Some suggestions are sausage and Italian cheeses or ricotta, prosciutto and parmesan cheese.  Have fun experimenting!





Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gifts and Talents for Everyone!



While walking with Abby to the bus stop a few days ago I had decided to carry my camera along to capture some tree buds in the early morning light.  As we walked and enjoyed the morning breeze, Abby looked up at me and said, “Mom, I think one of the things God put you here to do is take beautiful pictures of His creation and share them with others.”  I was speechless, which most of you know is not common.  

While I know that I am not a professional, I do love to take photos.  My favorite things to photograph are nature and its movements including birds, flowers, bugs, grains, people, animals and anything and everything with life.  I love to wait and watch for that moment where you can see someone’s personality shine, capture a bird cleaning her feathers, or view the light illuminate a flower’s pure colors.  God has created beauty all around and I love to catch it in action to save and share with others.  Abby’s words were so wonderful to hear, because I didn’t feel like that is what I was doing or able to do until she spoke so plainly that morning.  I have always loved to take photos, but I had never thought of it as something that I share with others.  I wouldn’t say that photography is my main talent or one what will change the world.  However, the eye for photography is a gift I was given and it is my joy to share it with others.

We all have talents and gifts that have been given to us by God. As Jesus told us in the Parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25:14-30, it is our job to share these talents and gifts with others for His joy and in His name.  Think of the last time you gave someone a gift that was not received well, was never used or you later found out was exchanged in the store and remember the way it made you feel.  After putting a lot of thought into a gift that you think the receiver will truly enjoy, it can hurt to have it tossed aside without appreciation.  Don’t let God think His gifts aren’t appreciated.  Today I challenge you to think of one talent you have left hidden on the back shelf, dust it off and put it to use.  Whether you cook, craft, juggle, tell jokes, write, take photos, are double jointed or any of the other thousands of talents out there share that gift with at least one person today.   Even if you just share it here, share it freely and know that the Lord rejoices in your gifts and wants all to see what He has given you.   Are you the servant that hides away your talents, or are you the servant that lets your talents grow?


 

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-6






Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Stay Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

After I had Alex, my first baby, a group of our friends brought us some goodies to make dinner time easier as we adjusted to the new addition in our family.  Included in the gift pack was some prepared, uncooked chocolate chip cookie dough from a local farmers market.  As most who have nursed a newborn know, and those that have not now do, eating can become a new hobby as the nursing process consumes an extra 500 of a new mom's daily calories.  The cookie dough did not stay uncooked for long.   The cookies that this dough made were the softest and tastiest chocolate chip cookies I had EVER eaten and I HAD to know how to make these cookies.  The ingredients were printed clearly on the container, but it was not enough to know what was in the cookies.  I needed to know how much of each ingredient was required to make the cookies stay soft and taste delicious too.  I set out on a mission to make a stay soft, yummy cookie that was like the homemade farmers market cookies I fell in love with.  Below is the recipe I have been using for years now and with much success.   I am very thankful for friends and the gifts that they give. 

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! - Ecclesiastes 4:9-10



Ingredients:
2 Sticks Real Butter
¾ Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
¾ Cup Sugar
1 Tbsp Vanilla (if using imitation, use ½ Tbsp for real vanilla)
2 Eggs
2 ½ Cups Unbleached Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
Pinch of Salt
3 Cups chocolate chips
  



Directions:
1. Soften butter in microwave so that it is part liquid, part soft solid still.



2. Beat butter, sugars and vanilla together until creamy. 

3. Beat in the eggs and continue until mixture is creamy.

  

4. Add flour, baking soda and salt and continue to beat until smooth.  At this point you have the base for any number of chip or fruit and nut cookies.   Add the chocolate chips and combine thoroughly.  

5. Drop tablespoon size dollops onto an ungreased cookie sheet (or use a cookie scooper).  Bake at 375 for approx 8-10min, rotating half way through the baking process. 



6. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on parchment paper. 

7. Instead of chocolate chips you can also add any number of items during step 4.  Some ideas are, 2 cups white chocolate chips and ½ cup dried cranberries and ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans , add 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa and 3 cups of peanut butter and chocolate chips, or 2 Cups M&M’s candies.  Many options to try, so enjoy!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Warmed by the Son

Emily, my youngest, turned four this past October.   Everything that she spoke of that day revolved around her birthday, being four and what people might think about that.  Emily giggled in everything thing she did, she squealed when family called and she made sure to announce to everyone that she is now four. I asked her that morning, “How does it feel to be four?” 

Emily’s reply was nothing short of her usual style.  “Well, the sun seems a bit hotter today.” 
I questioned, “Really?  Why is that?”

“Well I suppose I grew a bit.  Now that I am four I think I might like spicy things too.”

While spicy food might have to wait, her desire to grow and be bigger is always present, as seems to be the case with the youngest children in most families.  However, that day Emily felt tall.  She felt closer to the sun and she felt warmer because of it. 
There are many days that I would like to feel warmer and closer to the Son.  There are many days that I feel the cold distance of my own sin and resistance.  Many days I know I am my own worst enemy, letting the evil one’s words enter my mind, knowing that I should tell him to shut up and leave me be by opening my bible and letting God’s words take over.   I know I am not alone in having these days.  On those days we should remember what it is to be four, to grow closer to the Son and to walk a little taller knowing that He Is on our side.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.  -  James 4:7-10


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sunday


This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  - Psalm 118:24

Northern Blue Bird

Northern Blue Bird


Friday, March 16, 2012

Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con Pollo
From the kitchen of Margarita Serbia (my Mom)
 
 
Ingredients:
  • 1 28oz Can Diced or Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Diced Green Pepper
  • 2-6 Cloves Crushed or Minced Garlic
  • 1 Diced Onion
  • 3-4lbs Chicken Cut Up - Bone In
  • Adobo
  • Sazon
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Chicken Broth or Water
  • 2 C. White Rice
  • Green Olives

Directions:      
  • Combine tomatoes, green pepper, minced garlic, diced onion, seasonings and chicken in a large stock pot or caldero.  Cover and simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally until chicken is thoroughly cooked. (approx 1hr)
  • Remove chicken from pot and remove meat from the bone.  Return chicken meat to pot and add rice.
  • Add enough additional liquid to cook rice (approx 4cups).  Add green olives and additional seasonings if needed.
  • Stir and then simmer lightly until rice shows on top without stirring.
  • Stir from top to bottom and then cover and allow rice to continue to cook until tender, yet firm.



For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Luke 12:23

Prison Van

During lunch one summer afternoon, Alex (9 at the time), with a serious look on his face, announced he had been thinking about something.  Continuing, Alex stated that he had an image of a prison van with bars on the windows and doors, loaded to capacity with prisoners in dirty, dingy, stained clothing.  Dirt smeared faces peer out the back door as a man arrives with a key and gently turns the lock to open the door.  Each prisoner cautiously exits the van and as they do their clothes are changed from dirty to a pristine, crisp clean.  Alex then looked at me and said, “Mom, those prisoners are us, trapped in our sin.  The man with the key is Jesus and only He can release us from those sins. “

Most of the time, my children’s stories are not so complete and poignant.  Most of the time, the stories involve wolves, imaginary friends or multiple friends from school.   But this time, Alex shared a story that gave me chills and warmed my heart at the same time. 
We have all been trapped in our own sin, looking for a door to open and let us out.  But how many of us will take the hand of Jesus when He opens the door for us?  How many of us try to fix things ourselves, to take control of what is not ours to control?  Why is it so hard to just give Him our problems?  JESUS DIED FOR OUR SINS long ago as a gift from God.  Why is it so hard for us to graciously accept that gift?  If my Aunt gave me a sweater for Christmas, I would never throw it back at her and say, “No, I can stay warm myself thank you.”   So, why do we think it is okay to say to our Creator, Savior and Father in Heaven, “I know you died for our sins and salvation, and I know you said my problems are Yours and all I have to do is trust and accept You, but I think I got this whole living life thing on my own.  Thanks anyway.” 
As He carried the cross, He carried our crosses.  As He cried out and breathed His last breath of life on this Earth, He did it so we could live.  Will you let Jesus release you from the prison of sin and let Him carry your cross?
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  - Ephesians 2:8-9

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Crafting - Resurrection Eggs

Recently while trying to come up with a craft idea for our Junior Youth group, I came across the idea of Resurrection Eggs.  Resurrection Eggs help to tell the story of Jesus’ resurrection in a memorable way for younger children.  The eggs can be purchased completed, but there are also many people out there that have created their own sets, which is what we did this past Friday as a group.  The junior youth group consists of kids in grades 1-6 and they all seemed to enjoy making the craft as well as learning the story to go with the eggs.  Since the story of Jesus’ resurrection is detailed and full of many important points, it can be tricky to limit it to just twelve verses and events for the eggs created and there are many suggestions floating around, but below is the “recipe” that we used to make our own Resurrection Egg sets.

You Need:
  • Empty Egg Carton
  • 12 Different Colored Plastic Eggs (be sure they fit in the carton)
  • Sharpie to label the Eggs 1-12
  • Crayons, Colored Pencils, Scissors
  • Items for inside eggs - I have included my ideas below, but feel free to use ideas of your own based on what is readily available to you.

The Eggs

1. Palm Branches and Donkey (Matt. 21:1-9) - We found a piece of clip art that we could cut, color and place in the egg that had a donkey and palm branch.

2. 30 Pieces of Silver (Matt. 26:14-16) – Three dimes or nickels work well for this egg.



3. The Lord's Supper – Bread and Wine (Matt. 26:17-19, 26-28) – I found mini silver wine goblets at the dollar store in the wedding section and used tan model magic to mold a loaf of bread (though the kids insisted my bread looked like a finger).


4.Rooster, Peter's Denial (Matt. 26:33-35) – Again we used a clip art of a rooster and printed them out to color, cut and place in the egg.


5. Crown of Thorns (Matt. 27:28-31) – For the crown I used tan pipe cleaner and wrapped silver wire around to simulate thorns.  



6. Cross (John 19:16-22) – The tan pipe cleaner was used for the cross as well.



7. Sign – This Is Jesus, The King of the Jews (Matthew 27:37) – Another print out to cut and color.


8. Sponge soaked in Vinegar – (Matthew 27:48) – I used a tan sponge, cut into a small enough piece, but I did not place vinegar on the sponge.  I did pass around the vinegar for the children to smell.


9. Casting Lots for Jesus' Robe (John 19:23-24) – I cut a piece of purple felt and placed two dice with it in the egg. (not sure why I have yellow dice)


10. Linen Cloth for Jesus' Burial (Matt. 27:57-60) – I cut a piece of white linen.


11. A Stone Was Placed in Front of the Tomb (Matt. 28:1-4) – Very simply used a stone from my driveway.


 12. Empty!  He Has Risen!!! (Matt. 28:5-10)