Hamburger and Tot Skillet

Hey there!  It’s been quite some time since my last post. Just about 2 years ago to the day!

All has been fine – life just got in the way when I took on a new job. I’ve settled into my new job now and feel like I have more time to concentrate on other things! I’ve been wanting to get back into blogging and this recipe convinced me to write a post to share it with you all! Because it is so goooood!

Who doesn’t love tots??!!  This is recipe is so easy and yummy you have to give it a try!

As usual, it was a weeknight in which I had not planned dinner and had very little ingredients to make anything. So, I started searching through the pantry and freezer and found hamburger and tater tots. I thought they would go well together – you know – like meat and potatoes :). I searched for some vegetables to add and picked corn and green beans. Looking through the pantry I found Lipton Onion Soup Mix, beef broth, and canned tomatoes. I thought the soup would give it good flavor and the tomatoes would give it color.

This recipe only took 15-20 minutes to make. It is super fast, so I’m going to keep the ingredients on hand for an emergency meal.

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As I was thinking about what recipe to share with you, I was also keeping my eyes and ears open for a bible verse that would speak to me. We are studying the Book of Acts and church and we read Chapter 14 verse 17…

“He provides you with plenty of food and fills your heart with joy”

This verse definitely caught my attention. Whenever I read anything in bible about food I’m always thinking about how I can blog about it. The Lord certainly does provide us with plenty of food and gives us joyful hearts. This is evidence of his goodness. Food does bring us joy because usually it accompanies the presence of family and friends. I’m grateful for all the wonderful times spent together with family, friends, and food! I’m also grateful for a God that provides everything I need, even when I don’t realize it. This fills my heart with joy!

Joy to you all!

~Lori

Recipe for Hamburger and Tot Skillet

1 lb hamburger

1 envelope of Lipton Noodle Soup

1/2 can of beef broth

1 can diced tomatoes

Frozen corn – 1/2 bag

Frozen Green Beans – 1/2 bag

Frozen Tater Tots – 1/2 bag

Salt and pepper

Brown the hamburger in the skillet on medium heat. Drain the fat. Add Lipton Onion Soup mix, beef broth, tomatoes. Stir until combined. Add the frozen corn, green beans, mix around. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tots and gently mix to avoid breaking them up too much. Cover with a lid and let simmer for about 10 minutes until bubbling and tots are cooked. Ready to serve! Serves 4

This is a basic recipe. You can add any type of vegetable you prefer, any type of tomatoes, or not. And cheese would be good too!!  Have fun and keep it simple!

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Meatballs in Marinara Sauce – My Valentine’s Day Dinner

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I have to admit that I did not cook this dinner!

My husband did! He cooked this wonderful Valentine’s dinner for me- now that is love! ♥

So I thought I would share this wonderful recipe he made for us. It is simple and delicious!

I was delighted when Chuck said he was going to cook dinner as his Valentine’s Day present for me. I’m quite happy to step away from the kitchen and let someone else take over! This isn’t the first time he has made me dinner, but since I like to cook he doesn’t have to make dinner too often. Usually on special occasions  like Valentine’s day, my birthday, or Mother’s Day he will pull a good meal together. So, today he chose to make Meatballs in Marinara Sauce in the crockpot. This came to creation based on the ingredients we had on hand. It is very cold and snowy here in the Northeast, so a good rib-sticking meal served with warm, buttered, crusty bread and red wine was a meal we both were craving!

Starting early in the afternoon so this would have time to simmer in the crockpot, he began with making the meatballs. He mixed almost 3 lbs of hamburger with a pack of onion soup mix, 2 eggs, water, panko bread crumbs, oregano, and lots of fresh shredded parmesan cheese. He mixed everything together and formed them into about 3″ meatballs. He baked them in the oven for about 40 minutes. Baking makes them cook evenly and eliminates the mess of cooking them on the stovetop. They get nicely brown this way. No turning is necessary.

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Next he added the tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, and a little bit of red wine to the crockpot. Because the tomatoes were diced and the onion was chunky, he wanted a smoother sauce, so it was time to use a real kitchen tool – the immersion blender! Guys love to use tools! Even when they are cooking! Using the immersion blender smooths out the sauce to a nice consistency.

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Then it was time to add the meatballs. In they go, and now we wait while all the flavors blend together over the next few hours. The smell of these simmering meatballs in this garlicky tomato sauce is heavenly!! You just want to dunk a big chunk of crusty bread right into the sauce!

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On this Valentine’s Day, this verse comes to mind:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians  13:4-7

As we love one another these are good virtues to strive towards. Although they are not always easy to follow all the time, we know that God’s grace and mercy will always be there for us when we fail.  And God’s word is always there to show us how to love – Jesus tells us how throughout all the Gospels and it is also written throughout Paul’s, letters. When we remember to be patient and kind, put others before ourselves, say we are sorry, forgive and forget  to mention a few, then we will have hope and protection of our loving God.-a love that surpasses all love!

I hope you all had a blessed Valentine’s Day with the ones you love!

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This tasted amazing! He served it on top of a bed of spaghetti with LOTS of fresh grated parmesan cheese! Served with a lovely salad and crusty bread, this was love on a plate! And to top it off, he got me flowers! I would say it was a very memorable Valentine’s Day and I’m very blessed to have such a thoughtful and loving husband!

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Blessings,

Lori

 

Meatballs in Marina Sauce

2 1/2 – 3 lbs ground beef

2 eggs

1/2 cup water

1 package of onion soup mix (you could use 1/2 onion finely chopped)

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 clove of garlic, pressed or finely chopped

1/2 -3/4 cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese

1 tsp oregano

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2. Mix all ingredients together and form into 3″ round meatballs

3. Place in a shallow baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Chuck’s Easy Marinara Sauce

3 – 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes

1/2 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped

1/2 – 3/4 cup of red wine

1 tsp oregano

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper

Directions

1. Mix all together and simmer in the crock pot for 5-6 hours on low with the meatballs. Remove bay leaf before serving.

2. Serve over your favorite pasta with a salad and bread! Enjoy!

*Note – this sauce can also be made on top of the stove. Simmer on low for several hours. You can also used the crushed tomatoes and then eliminate the need to blend them smooth.

 

Nutritious Roasted Vegetables

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Baby, it’s cold outside! It is definitely January here in the northeast! I just want to stay inside and turn on the oven! Any little bit of extra heat helps! However, as much as I would love to be baking cookies and cakes and pies, I’m trying to stay with the “healthy” theme for the new year, and increase the vitamins and anti-oxidants in my diet, Less flour, sugar, and butter, and more fruits and vegetables! So, I decided to roast several different vegetables together. Since I can’t grill them, which is my favorite way, I chose to roast them. Roasting brings out the sweetness and flavor of the vegetable – they slowly carmelize and get slightly crispy, tasting much better than steaming or microwaving. If you are not a big vegetable fan, you should try roasting them for a rich and sweeter flavor! I used asparagus, grape tomatoes, red onions, and cauliflower for this batch. They are so colorful together!

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This recipe requires no measuring or mixing. It is super easy! Just cut up some of your favorite vegetables, coat with oil and seasonings and put in the oven. Easy and nutritious! You can’t beat that! They are a perfect side for roasted chicken or a beef or pork roast. Another idea is to mix them with pasta, or toss on your salad. And if you have any leftovers, you can toss them into the food processor with chicken broth and have roasted vegetable soup! That’s what I did with my leftovers.

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One thing about the seasoning I would like to share  – I have discovered “Himalayan Salt”. This was found at my favorite local olive oil and vinegar store http://www.oliveoiletc.com/.

What is Himalayan Salt and isn’t salt somewhat bad for you?? Certainly too much salt or sodium can be bad for you, especially if you have high  blood pressure or a condition that requires you to be on a low sodium diet. Himalayan salt is actually lower in sodium than regular salt. It is pink in color (from the iron oxide) and loaded with extra minerals! It is all natural and mined in the salt mines of Pakistan near the Himalayan mountains.  It is high in additional minerals such as sulphate, magnesium, calcium, and potassium, just to mention a few. Regular table salt is stripped of these minerals. If you would like to know more about it, here is a link with the additional information and benefits –

http://fitlife.tv/10-amazing-benefits-of-pink-himalayan-salt/

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone”  Colossians 4:6

Not only should we be aware of the nutrients we are putting in our bodies, but also the words that we speak. I like that this verse says “seasoned with salt” – salt is a flavor enhancer, so we should “enhance” our conversations with grace and compassion. Kind words are received much easier than unkind words, which can create bitterness and hurtfulness. As we work on getting healthy with our food choices, we can start to get healthy spiritually with the conversations we are having with others, using our words to build each up and encourage one another.

Grace and peace,

Lori

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Roasted Vegetables

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut up your favorite vegetables –  ex: carrots, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus, peppers, eggplant, etc.

Lightly coat with olive oil and place on a baking sheet or baking dish (my dish was stoneware so it was non-stick, but you could line your pan with foil for easy cleanup).

Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and seasonings of your choice – parsley, basil, marjoram, or rosemary, for example.

Roast for 25-30 minutes, halfway through, turn them over with a spatula and roast for an additional 25-30 minutes,  or until tender.

Enjoy!

Happy Healthy New Year! Carrot Ginger Soup

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Welcome 2015! And welcome to a new year of healthy eating! After all the sweets and cookies are gone, it’s time to get back to eating healthier and lighter foods. The problem is I love sweets! I have a very hard time resisting them. I’m not making any promises that I will eliminate sweets completely :), but I am going to try to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables into my daily diet. The more fruits and vegetables you eat the more antioxidants you are putting in your body, which helps build your immune system. That is especially important during this cold and flu season.

This recipe for Carrot Ginger soup is very high in anti-oxidants and contains lots of vitamins and minerals. Most notably from the carrots, there is over 210% of your daily allowance of Vitamin A. Carrots also contain Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Vitamin E. The anti-oxidant in carrots is beta-carotene. This gives the carrot its orange color and its anti-cancer and immune boosting benefits. Ginger has its own set of benefits, which is prevention of colds and flu, aides in digestion and stomach issues, helps absorption of essential nutrients by stimulating enzymes in the pancreas, aides in motion sickness, maintains blood circulation. It also reduces pain and inflammation, has anti-cancer effects for colon cancer, and strengthens your immune system. That is a whole lot of benefits in just 2 ingredients!!!

Not only is it important for us to stay healthy physically, but spiritually as well!

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”  1 Corinthians 10:31

What does it mean to “get healthy” spiritually? I think it means to have more awareness of God in your life. Recognizing that everything happens for a reason, no matter how small or insignificant it is; seeing God all around you in nature, animals, people, and circumstances; realizing a need for God in our lives, on a daily basis; realizing we do not have ultimate control over our lives; learning to trust God and allow Him to be our guide; and believing that ALL things are possible with God! If we work towards these things, and give Him all the Glory, we will be blessed!

Let’s start the new year getting healthy both physically, by what we eat, and spiritually, by how we are living our lives.

Blessings for a fantastic 2015!!

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Carrot Ginger Soup

1 tsp olive oil

2 tsp butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 lb of carrots, chopped

2 cups of chicken broth

1 tbsp of peeled, grated fresh ginger ( you can substitute 1 tsp of ground ginger or 1 tbsp of ginger paste)

Directions

1. Chop onion and carrots

2. Melt butter and olive oil in large pot

3. Saute onions in butter in olive oil until translucent

4. Add carrots and chicken broth; cook on medium heat until soft – about 20-30 minutes. Add grated ginger.

5. Use an immersion blender and blend in the pot, or transfer into a food processor and puree until smooth, adding a little extra chicken broth to get to your preferred consistency. If using a food processor, this may need to be done in a few batches.

6. Heat back to desired temperature. If desired, top with sour cream. Enjoy!

Eating healthy is important to me, so I will be focusing on more healthy recipes for 2015. I already have a few ideas for future posts, but I also welcome your ideas too! If you have a favorite “healthy” recipe you would like to share, please let me know!

The Gifts of Christmas

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Everyone loves a gift of food! If you don’t know what else to give someone – give them a foodie gift. People appreciate the thoughtfulness, time, and love put into homemade goodies.

It’s not too late to make some simple and delicious food gifts for your friends and family! I’ve come up with some easy recipes you can make quickly. These are some of my favorites to eat and to make.  They are also fun to do with kids!

Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Sticks in a jar

Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods are always a favorite!

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Pecan Brittle is good for some one who doesn’t like something too sweet!

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Mini Pumpkin Bread is so moist!

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Peppermint Bark with crushed candy canes is the flavor of the season!

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There are many special gifts we receive this time of year. But none are as special or important as the gifts of Jesus. I recently did a worship service for the residents of a local nursing home and shared a simple message with them, and I would like to share it with you too!

What IS Christmas?

Seems like an obvious question. In our society there are 2 types of Christmas – there is the Christmas with Santa and the Christmas with Jesus, and we celebrate both. 

In both celebrations there are gifts and there is an element of Believing. In both, it is a time of anticipation and celebration – a time with your family and friends, fun activities, singing, and gatherings with food and gifts. Joyful and exciting.

Santa brings gifts and you have to “Believe” so when you wake up on Christmas morning you will find gifts under the tree. As children, we eventually learn that Santa isn’t real, and doesn’t bring the gifts. It was disappointing – remember when you found out that Santa was really Mom and Dad?? Ugh what a let down.

That is not the case with Jesus – He is Real! And He does bring gifts – gifts that are everlasting! His gifts will continue and He will not let you down!

Jesus brings the gift of:

Joy – that feeling of happiness and elation

Hope – just knowing there is so much more than this temporary life on earth – there is blessed eternity

Peace – the feeling of calmness and serenity; security

Love – the gift of kindness and compassion, hugs and kisses, understanding and a smile, and so much more!

These gifts don’t break, they don’t get old, or too small or worn out, they don’t get put away or thrown away. The gifts of Jesus are eternal!

Dear Friends, receive the gifts of Jesus this year and BELIEVE in Him! You don’t have to go anywhere or do anything special to receive them. Just open your hearts to Him. His gifts will be with us and will remain with us forever.

What is Christmas? Christmas is Jesus – son of God, a miracle sent from Heaven

Have a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

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Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

Melt 6 ozs of almond bark or candy melts in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir. Heat for another 30 seconds. Stir and microwave for another 30 seconds. Stir until completely melted. Dip pretzel rods into melted candy and coat with your favorite toppings such as sprinkles, nuts, crushed candy canes, etc. Place on tray until set.

Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Sticks

Pecan Brittle

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups pecan halves or cashews

1 tsp butter

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

Directions:

In a greased 2 qt bowl cook sugar, corn syrup, and salt on High 2-3 minutes until boiling. Cook 4 minutes. Stir in nuts, butter, vanilla, and cinnamon. Cook 2 minutes. Immediately, stir in baking soda until light and foamy. Quickly, pour onto a greased cookie sheet; spread. Cool and break into pieces. Makes 1 pound.

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Mini Pumpkin Breads

3 cups flour

1 3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp baking power

1-16oz can pumpkin

1 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

2/3 cup chopped nuts

2/3 cup raisins

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour four 6x3x2 inch baking pans

2. Mix flour, sugar, baking soda, salt , cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and baking powder. Add pumpkin, oil, eggs, nuts, and raisins. Stir until dry ingredients are moistened and mixture is smooth. Pour into prepared pans.

3. Bake for about 45 minutes (I started checking at 35 minutes) or until a wooden pick inserted comes out clean. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

4. Wrap in plastic wrap, then in aluminum foil, and store overnight for better slicing, if desired.

* I didn’t add any nuts or raisins to my recipe. Also, this can be made into 2 regular 9x5x3 size loaves. Increase flour to 3 1/2 cups and sugar to 2 cups and  the baking time to 60 minutes.

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Peppermint Bark (courtesy of Pampered Chef)

3 candy canes, crushed

10oz of chocolate almond bark or chocolate candy melts

10oz of vanilla almond bark or vanilla candy melts

1 tsp peppermint extract

Directions:

1. Crush candy canes in a large resealable  bag. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

2. Melt chocolate bark for 1/1/2 minutes. Stir until melted. Microwave more if necessary. Add peppermint extract. Stir well until mixed.

3. Melt vanilla bark for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir until melted. Microwave more if necessary.

4. Drop alternating scoops of chocolate and vanilla in rows onto a sheet pan about 11×7 size. Make sure the scoops are connected to each other in the pan. Using a knife, pull through across the chocolate and vanilla to create a swirl/marble effect. Sprinkle with the crushed candy canes.

4. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or until bark is set. Lift parchment and bark from pan. Break into pieces.

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  Enjoy!!!

Christmas Blessings to all!!!

~Lori

Cookie Baking Time!

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This weekend was the 2nd Annual Cookie Baking Event at my house! My niece and I made several different kinds of cookies together. It is always such a delightful time, as we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ!

We made our families cookie recipes – ones that have been passed down through the generations – made by our mothers and grandmothers. We made the buttery, thin and crisp, rolled-out Sand Tarts, the soft cake-like Sugar Cookies, rich and sweet Pecan Balls, and the typical but all-time favorite, soft and chewy Chocolate Chip cookies.

Family is a blessing, and it is such a joy to share the tradition of making cookies together at Christmas time. But it is more than just baking cookies, it is a time of bonding, reminiscing about the past, looking forward to the future, sharing the love of our Lord, and discussing the importance our faith has in our lives. There is as much talking going on as there is baking! Just ask our husbands!

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Soft Sugar Cookies

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Sand Tarts – our grandma’s recipe

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Pecan Balls – lots of butter and finely chopped pecans, first step, baked in the oven…

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then rolled in confectioner’s sugar, twice

The joy of this event, led me to the verse below from the book of Luke 2:10.

But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for behold I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people”

This is what an angel said to the shepherds in the field on the night of Jesus’ birth. The good news is JESUS – who brings joy to ALL people!

I hope in this season of such busyness, sometimes stressfulness, and maybe illness or even sadness, you can find the great JOY of our Lord in moments throughout your day. Whether it is when you are shopping, at holiday events, family and friend gatherings, or baking cookies together! Think of Jesus and believe in Him! The greatest gift we can receive is in the mystery and wonder of the Holy Child sent from our Father in Heaven. He brings us joy, and He is the reason for celebrating Christmas!

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The Angel

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 Happy Cookie Baking!

Blessings,

~Lori

Grandma’s Sand Tarts

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup butter

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

3 1/2 cups flour

1 egg white

Directions:

Cream butter and sugar until creamy; add eggs. Beat for 2 minutes. Add vanilla. Mix in salt and flour until a dough forms and all ingredients are incorporated. Form dough into a ball and chill for several hours. Remove dough from the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough until VERY thin. Cut out with your favorite cookie cutters. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with colored sugar, or cinnamon sugar, and/or finely chopped peanuts. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Makes 8-10 dozen

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Other recipes available upon request. Just let me know!

Creamy Turkey Noodle Soup

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I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends and enjoyed a delicious meal together!

Now that it is has passed, if you were the lucky one to cook the big bird – what do you do with the turkey leftovers??

At our house, after we’ve eaten the next day meal of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans and gravy, and made a few turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce, I usually make soup!  There is still a lot of turkey left on the carcass – you would be surprised! Don’t throw it away! There are about 2-3 more additional meals you can create with what is left. Grab your biggest pot and I will show you how.

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Toss the remaining picked-apart bird into a big pot and fill with water – enough to just about cover the whole carcass. Bring it to a boil and cook on a simmer for about 2 hours. You can add an onion (with the skin, this gives is color), a few carrots, and some celery pieces plus the leaves, a bay leaf, salt and pepper. I brined my turkey this year with salt and seasonings so I didn’t have to add anything additional to the water. There was already so much flavor in the bones. See the rich color of the broth below?

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After a few hours of simmering, I turned it off and let it cool. Then I removed all the bones onto a platter and strained the remaining broth into another big pot. This made about 8 quarts of broth. I cooled the broth in the refrigerator, and separated the turkey meat from all the bones. I ended up with an entire plate piled high of turkey meat – mostly dark but some white too! This was A LOT! You could make ANY recipe that called for cooked chicken and substitute it with the cooked turkey – such as turkey enchiladas, turkey pot pies, turkey stir fry, turkey and dumplings, turkey and stuffing casserole, etc,!!

When I make my soup, I sauté the onions, celery, and carrots and ground thyme in butter and olive oil until they are soft. Because this is a creamy soup, I added a few tablespoons of flour to help thicken it. I add the broth and bring it to a boil. When it is boiling, I add the noodles until they are cooked – about 8 minutes. Then add the turkey and the cream. This recipe is the ultimate in comfort soup! The savory thyme mixed with the richness of the cream is heavenly. As my son describes it, “it is diabolical!” I made a batch of creamy chicken noodle soup a few weeks prior and it was such a hit that I couldn’t make the traditional turkey noodle soup without making it the “creamy” version. As the days are consistently getting colder, this soup will surely warm you to the bones!

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“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with grateful hearts”  Colossians 3:16

As we move from this season of thanksgiving into the Advent season, I’m trying to remember to always be grateful for all that the Lord has blessed me with. It is so easy to oversee many of the blessings in our lives, and even easier to see what we don’t have! I am so grateful for what and WHO God has provided in my life! But I need to be mindful and make myself aware each day. So, I’m going to write down 3 things everyday until Christmas day of what or who I am grateful for. Will you join me?

As St. Paul told the Colossians, we should fill our lives with the Word of our Lord and all his wisdom! And sing psalms and songs to Him with grateful hearts!

May all the richness of His Word and the richness of this creamy turkey noodle soup fill you up and make you grateful!

Blessings,

~Lori

Creamy Turkey Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

1 cup onion, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

1 cup carrots, chopped

2 tbsp. butter

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp ground thyme

salt and pepper to taste

3 tbsp. flour

4 qts of turkey stock (if you didn’t make your own stock, you can use 4-32oz of store bought turkey or chicken broth, I promise, I won’t be upset with you!)

1/2 bag of 12oz egg noodles

2 cups of cooked and chopped/shredded turkey meat

1/2 pint of heavy cream

Directions:

Saute onions, carrots, and celery in the butter and olive oil until soft. Add thyme, salt, pepper and the flour. Mix ingredients around, it should resemble a paste. Slowly add and whisk the turkey broth to incorporate with the flour paste, and bring to a boil. It should thicken up a little bit. When the broth is boiling, add the noodles and boil for about 8-10 minutes. Turn the heat down so it is no longer boiling. Add the cooked turkey and cream. Mix together. Serve with a salad and warm bread!

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Cranberry-Sage Sausage Stuffing

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The stuffing steals the show! This is my favorite side dish at Thanksgiving. It is practically a meal within itself – the meat, the bread, the veggies, what more do you need? We have actually had the sausage stuffing as a main dish in the past, served with a side salad. It really can stand alone. But for Thanksgiving dinner, this dish accompanies the rest of the meal very well. Especially when it is topped with the turkey gravy! Oh my, I can hardly wait for the big day!

I wait all year for this fabulous feast! Not eating turkey all the months prior, just so I can build up anticipation for this special day. And it is very much appreciated!

A few years ago, my son, Shane, started the tradition of making sausage stuffing for our Thanksgiving meal . Everyone loved it, so the tradition carries on. I modified his recipe just a bit by adding fresh sage and dried cranberries. I really like the sweet with the savory together. It is a perfect combination.

This recipe is really very simple. You must give it a try.

Start with browning the sausage in a skillet. When completely cooked through, remove from pan onto a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb the extra fat. Set aside.

Chop the onions, celery, and sage.

Sauté the onions and celery in butter. Add the chopped fresh sage. This is an amazing aroma!

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Add the cranberries and chicken broth, and bring to a boil.

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Mix the cubed stuffing mix and sausage together in a large bowl.

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Add the onions, celery, sage, chicken broth, and cranberries mixture to the stuffing and sausage and toss until blended.

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Place into a 9×13 casserole dish. Cover. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until completely heated through.

This recipe is so moist and flavorful! I made this in advance for Thanksgiving day, but we ate half of it as soon as it came out of the oven, because it smelled AMAZING and tasted so delicious! So, I guess I will be making a second batch. It is THAT good!

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Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.”   Psalm 136:1

Thanksgiving is a time to gather around the table with loved ones and friends, remember our blessings, and share all that we are thankful for. A family tradition at our Thanksgiving dinner is we individually proclaim what we are thankful for. Of course there are many things to be thankful for in our lives, such as our families and friends, good health, our jobs, delicious food, and lovely homes, etc. We are SO blessed! But we must always remember to thank our God, whom has made ALL these things possible! He is the Creator of everything. And He IS good! Psalm 136 reminds us of all the things the Lord has done and why we should give him thanks. The more you are aware of God’s presence in your life, the more you realize his amazing grace and his good blessings! Therefore, he deserves all the thanks and the glory!

This year I am certainly thankful for my wonderful family and friends, my good health, my job, my home, and delicious food, and for YOU, for taking time to read this! But I am most thankful for my God for providing them all! I hope you can see all the good things in your life, and realize that ultimately, God has provided them! Give Him all the thanks on this Thanksgiving and He will bless you!

I wish you all a safe and blessed Thanksgiving!

~Lori

Cranberry-Sage Sausage Stuffing

1 medium onion, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

1/2 stick of butter

2 1/2 – 3 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 16oz tube ground pork breakfast sausage – regular flavor or sage flavored

1 12oz bag of cubed stuffing

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown sausage in a skillet. Drain onto a paper towel covered plate. Set aside.

Chop the onions and celery.

Melt butter in a skillet. Add chopped onions and celery. Saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the chopped sage, salt, dried cranberries. Pour the chicken broth into the mixture. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Put the cubed stuffing mix into a large mixing bowl. Add the sausage. Mix.

Pour the chicken broth mixture into the stuffing and sausage. Mix until well blended.

Spread into a greased 9×13 casserole dish. Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy!

 

 

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

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Just a warning, these little things are dangerous! Because they are MINI! Which means you may actually eat more than what would be equivalent to a single piece of cheesecake! However, if you can control yourself, this is the perfect little Thanksgiving dessert!

Mini versions of dessert seem a bit more appealing – maybe because it is smaller and you don’t feel as guilty having just a little bit of dessert. Or you could do what I do to avoid that guilt and either skip the appetizer or eat a smaller portion of dinner just so you can have room for dessert! Not as much guilt with that approach! Dinner is not complete without dessert, especially on Thanksgiving!

We are only a little over a week away until the big turkey day! Are you ready?

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without something pumpkin. I will have the traditional Pumpkin Pie this year, but I like to add another dessert for variety, especially since the day is all about variety of foods! This recipe seemed like the perfect little ending for right after dinner, then, if there is room, maybe a piece of pie later. Sshh, that’s just between you and me!

I usually make mini-cheesecakes at Christmas topped with the traditional cherry pie filling. They are always a favorite because they’re an easy to eat finger dessert and pretty light. So, I adjusted the recipe by adding pumpkin, spices, and topped them with whipped cream.

To start making these mini delights, you have to make a simple graham cracker crust (directions below). Line a 12 cup baking pan with cupcake liners  and fill 1/4 of the way full with the graham cracker mixture. Pat or press down gently. 

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Next, fill the cups with the cheesecake mixture. Filling them until they are about 2/3 full.DSC_0083

DSC_0091  Bake for about 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees or until a knife inserted comes out clean.  You may notice some cracks while they are baking, but that’s ok, they will disappear once they settle down in the cooling process.DSC_0096DSC_0095  Remove from pan to cool. Once they are completely cool, top with whipped cream.

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Yummy! Mini versions are just more appealing!

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests”  Ephesians 6:18

As I was discerning on what to write for this post, the message of prayer kept coming to me. Prayer is such an important part of our spiritual life. How can our Father know what we need if we don’t ask, how can He help if we don’t tell Him what is going on? Prayer is a direct connection to our Lord. Knowing how important it is to take time to pray, I struggle with finding the time to make myself sit quietly and pray, especially when I have a thousand things to do running through my mind. I realized that I tend to have a lot of mini-prayers throughout the day- a sort of praying on the go! For example, I offer a quick prayer of thanksgiving as soon as I wake up;  I pray when I get into the car for the Lord’s safety and protection; I pray when I’m at work for the ability to stay focused and be productive; I pray, wherever I am, for a particular person when their name enters my mind; I pray when I start to feel anxious or worry about a situation; or I say a prayer of forgiveness if I unknowingly offended someone; and when I crawl into bed, I pray. My thoughts have actually turned into quick little mini-prayers. If you find yourself in the same situation of being unable to find the time to actually sit and pray, let your thoughts become mini-prayers. No matter how small they are, and no matter where you are, the Lord will hear them and will answer them!

Blessings and enjoy!

~LoriDSC_0103

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Preheat oven to 350.

Crust:

1 1/4 cups Graham Cracker crumbs

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup melted butter

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Combine crumbs and brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in melted butter, mix until thoroughly blended. Into each cupcake liner, add a heaping tablespoon and gently press down with the back of a spoon or your fingers. (You may have leftover crumbs – save for another batch)

Filling:

1 8oz. package of cream cheese, softened (regular or less fat)

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp ginger

sprinkle of cloves

1 egg plus 1 egg white

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium until light and fluffy. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Beat until combined. Add eggs. Beat until combined. Stir in the maple syrup and gradually add the canned pumpkin, mixing until well incorporated. Pour into cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for about 18-20 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cheesecakes from pan and cool completely on the wire rack. Refrigerate for 30-45 minutes. Top with whipped cream and serve.

Whipped cream:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons confectioners sugar

1 tsp of cinnamon (optional – but makes it really good!)

Beat with a whisk or with electric beaters until soft peaks form – not too stiff – it should be the consistency to form a nice dollop!

 

 

Nourishing – Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce

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Butternut Squash is soooo good for you!

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This wonderful winter squash is so nutrious! Being a member of the gourd family, it’s cousins are pumpkins, melons, and cucumbers. Because of it’s orange color, the most obvious nutrient is Vitamin A, and this veggie is loaded with it! It is also rich in B complex vitamins, such as B6, thiamine, and niacin, and high in minerals such as iron, zinc, and potassium. It is heart healthy, low in fat, high in fiber and high in anti-oxidants! What is there not to like!

I love butternut squash and have been making it a lot lately. You may be intimidated by its unusual shape and just don’t quite know what to do with it. I can understand that. It took me awhile to buy one and prepare it until I saw how to do it on a cooking show. I find the easiest way is to cut it in half lengthwise. It can be tough to cut through, especially at the stem (you may want to cut that off first), so be careful. A little force will be necessary.  Make sure you are working on a solid surface so it won’t slip. After you slice it in half,  scoop out the seeds (save them to roast later, they are packed full of protein and mono-unsaturated fats – the good ones!). Lay the halves flesh side down in a baking dish with enough water to cover the bottom. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes or until it is soft when pierced with a fork. (The picture shows the squash flipped over after baking, plus I made an extra one!)

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While your squash is cooling, cut up and onion and sauté in butter and oil until soft – about 10 mins on medium low. Add 1 clove of garlic minced. Saute a minute longer.

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Once the butternut squash has cooled enough to handle, scoop out the squash from its shell into your food processor. A blender may work if it is large enough. Add the onions and garlic, chicken broth, chopped fresh sage, dried ground thyme, salt, and nutmeg. Pulse until creamy and incorporated. Add the heavy cream, blend until velvety smooth. Pour into your cooked pasta, add parmesan cheese, and mix well. This sauce is so velvety and creamy, you will want to put it on everything.

“This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your soul” Proverbs 3:8

This dish will certainly bring health and nourishment to your body and soul!

I spent this past weekend at a conference with one of my favorite pastors. What an incredible experience it was! I felt completely fed with the Lord’s Word through wonderful teachings, worship, and singing! It was SO nourishing!

Just like our body needs food, our soul needs food as well! The healthier it is the better we feel! We are what we eat, we are what we read, we are what we sing…

The Word of our Lord and Savior is as essential to our soul as food is to our bodies. Choosing foods that are high in anti-oxidants, good vitamins and minerals, and low in fat, etc, is an important part of our daily lives and benefits our bodies. Are we as concerned about what we are choosing to feed our minds? Feeling better and more energized is not only a result of healthy eating, and it is also a result of filling our minds with positive, inspiring, God-filled literature and information. His Word gives us hope and fills us with love and joy which makes us feel GOOD. You know, like how you feel after drinking a vitamin-packed green smoothie! Your feel good!  So much of what we read and see on TV today is not benefitting us. We need to choose powerful and uplifting information or choose not to engage in it at all – it is kind of like saying “no” to those French fries!

The Word of our Lord and his teachings will bring health and nourishment to your soul, and this Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce will bring the same to your body! Be filled with them both!

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Enjoy!

Blessings,

Lori

 

Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce

1 whole roasted butternut squash*

2 tbsp. butter and a tsp olive oil

1 onion

1 clove of garlic

1 cup of chicken broth

1 tbsp. fresh chopped sage

1 tsp ground thyme

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan-Reggiano cheese

1 lb cooked whole wheat  penne pasta (you can use another type of pasta, but I would gradually add the pasta to the sauce so you don’t have more pasta then sauce)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Start a pot of water for the pasta.

Cut butternut squash in half, remove seeds (save for later*) and place flesh side down in a baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until it is soft in the neck part when pierced with a fork. When done, remove from oven, flip them over and let them cool. Chop onion. Heat butter and a little olive oil in the skillet. Add onions and cook over medium low heat until soft and translucent. Add minced or pressed garlic. Cook for another minute. Remove from heat.

When the water is boiling, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Scoop the butternut squash out of their shells and into the food processor or bowl/pot.

I used a food processor, but you could use a regular blender (may have to do it in batches), immersion blender, or mixer.

Either in the food processor or large bowl/pot, add the butternut squash, onion and garlic mixture, chicken broth, sage, thyme, nutmeg, and salt. Mix until well blended and smooth. Add the heavy cream and blend until velvety smooth. Thin the sauce with additional chicken broth, if necessary. The consistency should be pourable.

Pour the sauce over the pasta, add parmesan cheese, and toss together. Top with additional parmesan cheese!

*Tip – you may be able to find fresh butternut squash cut up in your produce section, just boil until soft. I have also seen it frozen, which can easily be microwaved. I’m not sure the equivalent to one fresh butternut squash, but my guess would be 2 packages.

*To roast butternut squash seeds, wash them in a colander to help remove the strings and pat dry on a towel. Preheat oven to 300. On a baking sheet, add a tablespoon of oil and the seeds. Sprinkle with salt. Mix around so seeds are coated. Spread seeds evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes – until they are just starting to get brown. Remove and cool.