Sunshine in Winter (a recipe post)

Today, because there’s snow on the ground, the sun is shining, and because the Pioneer Woman arrived in Colorado with her family, I decided to make my favorite dessert.  It’s called Lemon Milk Sherbet.  When we first moved to Denver, Carol Stephens (a very sweet elder’s wife) served this sunny dessert in pretty glass dishes, along with a plate of shortbread cookies.  The very best recipes are the ones you try when someone has you into their home for a meal!

I love this simple dessert for many reasons.  First, the fresh, yellow citrus offers a spot of sunny brightness, perfect for winter days.  (Did you know that we get more sunny days than Miami, FL?)  Second, the first sweet spoonful in my mouth makes me close my eyes, every time.  It’s that good.  It’s a light dessert, but a hit with teen boys.  Third, the recipe is super quick and easy.  And finally, making it is sheer pleasure because of the wonderful scent of lemon zest.  Smelling citrus is supposed to be a natural mood lifter, you know.  If you make this recipe, you might find yourself singing, “There is Sunshine in My Soul Today!”

LEMON MILK SHERBET

1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (4 or 5 lemons)

1 1/2 c. sugar

2 tsp. lemon zest

4 c. very cold milk

1/4 tsp. salt

Zest a couple of the lemons before you juice them.  Combine sugar, lemon juice, and zest.  Add cold milk.  I always use skim.  Freeze immediately.  If you’re impatient (like we were), you can serve it semi-frozen in a couple of hours, and it’ll still be delicious.

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for Your many gifts that brighten our lives.

 

Easiest Sunday Dinner

A friend of mine shared this recipe with me over 10 years ago and it’s been a staple in our house ever since.  Not only is it super simple, it’s absolutely delicious!  It’s perfect for Sundays because it can be thrown in the crock pot that morning and it’s ready by the time you get home from worship.  Plus, it can be easily doubled, and then you’re prepared to invite guests home with you for a special lunch.  Simply add a tossed salad and crusty bread (and a lemon ice box pie) and you’ve got a complete meal in no time!  This is also my go-to menu for taking to someone who needs a meal.

Parmesan Chicken

In crock pot, layer:

3- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, 2 cans of cream of chicken soup, and 1 package of shredded parmesan cheese

Crock pots vary, so determine whether or not to set it on High or Low based on your crock pot.  Mine needs to be set on High in order to be done by the time we get home from worship.

When you get home, shred the tender chicken using two forks.  If you super shred it, your sauce will be thicker.  I like to shred it just until it’s in bite-size pieces because I prefer bigger chunks of chicken and saucier sauce.  Serve over penne pasta.

Variations:

-Cook chicken with salsa verde, then shred for tacos.

-Cook chicken with red enchilada sauce, then shred for enchiladas.

-Cook chicken with barbecue sauce, then shred for sandwiches.

Prayer for Today:  May we always take advantage of modern conveniences that make it easier for us to be hospitable.

Buttered Hot Cocoa

Am I genius or what?  Don’t answer that.  You might ruin my fine moment of patting myself on the back.  I was making hot cocoa for the boys and trying to think of something to add as a foil for the sweetness.  Sea salt?  A cinnamon stick?  I was perusing the pantry and fridge looking for inspiration when I saw the stick of butter.  My mind conjured up images of other delights that I love involving milk and butter–creamy grits, oatmeal, soups.  Oh yes.

The hot cocoa was pretty basic.  I used cocoa, sugar, dash of salt, whole milk and vanilla.  Then I put a pat of butter in each mug before pouring in the hot cocoa.  I have salted and unsalted butter, but chose salted thinking it’d be a lovely contrast to the sugary cocoa.  The pat of butter floated to the top and slowly began to melt.  Truly, it was delicious.  The boys declared it the “best cup of cocoa they’ve ever had.”  Next time I just might try that sprinkle of sea salt on top of the butter.

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for the sweet and simple pleasures of life, especially those involving chocolate.

Summer Supper Recipes

I’m so thankful for my “baby” sister.  In addition to being a genuine Christian, Kristy is beautiful, witty, and just plain fun.  We laugh till we cry when we’re together.  She has always been one of the greatest blessings in my life.

In addition to enriching my life with her sparkle and wisdom, Kristy often enriches my palate with her creative cooking.  Every time we go to Oklahoma for a visit, I come home with at least a couple of new recipes jotted down.  For instance, did you know you can make homemade sherbet with just a 2-liter bottle of orange soda and a can of sweetened condensed milk?

A couple of weeks ago I posted some pictures on my facebook wall of a meal I made which I called “Summer Supper.”  The pasta dish was invented by my sister.  Not only is it delicious, but you can easily adapt it to suit your tastes.  Here are the recipes:

Garden Pasta with Chicken

I’ll describe this dish by layers.

Bottom Layer- Cook your pasta of choice, such as spaghetti, penne, or bow tie.

Sauce Layer- Saute some shallots (or onion) in a little olive oil, then add your favorite jarred sauce.

Veggie Layer- In olive oil, saute whatever fresh vegetables & seasonings you like.  I chose zucchini, squash, artichoke hearts, banana peppers (because they were ready to pick from my garden), scallions, and garlic.  I seasoned it with Cavender’s All-Purpose Greek Seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, salt & pepper.  Saute till crisp-tender, then toss in some fresh basil ribbons.

Chicken Layer- Marinate some chicken breasts in whatever floats your boat (I used pesto), then grill and slice.

To Serve- Top the spaghetti, sauce, and veggies with sliced chicken and shaved parmesan.  Garnish with fresh basil.

Variations:  Instead of doing a skillet saute, you can throw the vegetables on the grill (as Kristy does) along with the chicken.  Also, Kristy recently made this dish using leftover parmesan-crusted chicken.  Yum!

This is the Artisan Bread I served with the pasta dish.  The recipe can be found at:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Artisan-Bread-in-Five-Minutes-a-Day/

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for the heart-filling warmth of dear family, and the belly-filling comfort of good food.  May I never take your constant blessings for granted.

Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

On Saturday, I made this sauce.   I enjoy the depth of flavor that results from pairing rhubarb with strawberries.  The interesting thing about making this sauce was finding the right balance of sweetness.  Rhubarb is tart, so I started out with a whole cup of sugar.  My mouth puckered when I tried it, so  I added another half cup.  It was still too tart.  It took another half cup of sugar, and then it was just right.  The reason I added the sugar bit by bit was to avoid making the sauce too sweet.  Too much sugar in this sauce would’ve made our throats buzz, and would’ve also masked the flavor of the rhubarb.  I’ll include the recipe below, in case anyone’s interested.  We’ve been enjoying it with angel food cake, but it’d also be good over pancakes, waffles, or ice cream.

It’s a challenge finding the right balance of sweetness in our speech.  If we speak without thinking, our words can be too tart, and therefore, unpleasant.  Or, the things we say can come across as too sticky sweet when accompanied by a saccharine smile.  The only way to know the difference is to taste our own words.  With a little thought, kindness, and sincerity, our words can be “pleasant like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Prov. 16:24).

Prayer for today:  It’s all too easy to snap at loved ones, or be fake with others.  May the words I say to my children, my husband, my neighbors, my church family, and to strangers that I meet, be pleasant and sincerely sweet.  

Strawberry Rhubarb Sauce

In large pot, combine 2 quarts of strawberries (sliced), 4 stalks of rhubarb (diced), 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of water,  and the zest & juice of one orange.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Turn heat down to simmer, and cook until rhubarb is tender (about 15 minutes).  Add 1 tbsp. butter to reduce foam (optional).  Cook for a minute longer.  Remove from heat and stir in 1 tbsp. vanilla paste (or vanilla extract).  At this point, you can pour into jars as is, resulting in a chunky, fruity sauce.  Or, you can use an immersion blender, as I did, to create a smooth and creamy, ruby sauce.  Enjoy!

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