Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chocolate Sensation: Crock Pot

I am excited to share this wonderful and easy Crock Pot dessert with you all.  Every fall, I feel inspired to 'dust off' my Crock Pot and, prepare tasty and simple recipes in it.  This recipe is sure to be a pleaser for your family. Enjoy!!!



CHOCOLATE SENSATION: Crock Pot 

1 package chocolate cake mix

1 pint sour cream

1 small package instant chocolate pudding

1 small bag chocolate chips

3/4 cup oil

4 eggs 

1/2 t. vanilla

3/4 cup water 

1/2 cup half n half

Spray crockpot with non-stick spray. Mix all ingredients. Pour into crockpot.

Cook on low for 4-5 hours.

Serve in a bowl with vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ten Things I 'Preach' To Myself Every Day- As A Mom

Last Wednesday, I was so blessed to be the guest speaker at the Women's Fall Bible Study kick-off at Central Church, in Collierville, TN.  My dear friend, Ellen Olford, is their Women's Minister and, she is wonderful!  She is a true leader in our city and, I am blessed to know her. 


I wrote this talk from exactly where I am right now, as a Mom to my precious five children. 


Playing in our back yard, this summer.
Here are:  Ten Things I "Preach" to Myself Every Day As A Mom:  (My notes are in red) 




  1.  The Gospel-  I am a ‘work in progress’ and designed by Christ to be a Mom and wife.  I am constantly reminding myself of John 3:16 and, how I am working each day to be a great parent, with God's help.  I have to forgive myself and move on, as I make mistakes on a daily basis.  The cross...so thankful for the cross!  
  2. Rome wasn’t built in a day- raising children is a day-to-day process and, I cannot rush them to be perfectly behaved and together.  Psalm 26:11- I will daily walk in my integrity.  I love this verse!  Do I walk in integrity each day?  This is my heart's cry...walking in integrity as a wife, a mom, a home maker...in all that I do. 
  3. Start fresh each day.  Look at my children each morning and believe the best in them.  Lamentations 3:22-25.  Every day is new!  I am very thankful for this promise in Lamentations, one of my "Life Verses".  We do not need to carry over what our child did yesterday in to this day.  I start fresh and, I allow them to start fresh.  No holding a grudge against him/her in my heart.  No parenting out of what they might do, based on a previous day.  A fresh start!  This is what God gives us each day. 
  4.   Do not parent them in anger or out-of-being tired or moody.  Ephesians 6:4 and Ephesians 4:31.  Ouch!  These verses are really convicting!  I get 'out of sorts' with my children many days and, I know, many times, the problem is ME!  I want to parent well and, not according to my mood.  
  5.  Extend grace.  Grace, grace, wonderful grace!  My dear friend, Nan Lawrence shared this idea with me:  The Grace Rule.  Every week, give your child an "out" with using a Grace Rule method.   Teach them grace in action.  They break a rule or disobey.  Normally him/her would receive their punishment.  Explain to them that they are "getting a pass" because of grace.  Explain to them that what they did was disobedient, but, they are going to bypass a punishment all because of grace. 
  6.  Be flexible and fun.  I have mom friends who are fun and very flexible each day.  I struggle in this area!  I am constantly trying to "check off the boxes" on my 'To Do' list and, strive to keep my children on their schedule.  There is no room for error!  Ha!   I subscribe to the magazine Family Fun.  I literally keep the magazine in plain view, to remind myself to be more of a FUN mom!  Flexible?  Not really me!  I aim to let things "roll off" me easier.....ahhhh....this is a challenge!  Day-by-Day, sweet Lord. 
  7. Strive to keep a peaceful home.   I have been meditating on 1 Corinthians 14:33 the past few weeks.  A great verse!  "For God is not a God of confusion but of peace."  Each day, I have a choice:  Cultivate peace in my home, or not.  I choose peace!  I strive to organize our home, play sweet music, 'dish' out hugs and kisses and praise, light a fragrant candle, sit down for dinner each night.  Yes, each day feels like a fast moving train, but, order in the home cultivates peace.  You can do it!   
  8. Hug their dad in front of them, often.  Hugs on their dad make them see a secure marriage.  I know there are some single Moms here today, and, I pray for you.  Your job is not easy.  May God grant you extreme wisdom as a single parent. 
  9. Take some “me time” and have hobbies.  Hobbies and taking a day for yourself will make you feel refreshed and well-rounded.  Do not wait for the time to have a hobby.  You will never feel like you have time.  Take up walking, start scrap booking, read a good book, play tennis, get a facial, call a good friend and invite her to coffee.  You get the idea.  Do not think everything at home has to be in order before you take some time "off"....remember: the house will never be "all done"...it is a blessed continual cycle.  Take a breather and, treat yourself.   You will be a more patient mom afterwards. 
  10.  Meditate on the Word and pray for them, by name, daily.  Prayer creates a merciful heart.  I have been praying often for my children.  Praying for them by name.  Praying for their future spouses.  Praying for their hearts to be turned toward God. Praying for them to obey.  Praying for them melts my heart toward them.  Start a prayer notebook and give each child their own page.  I love to pray for my children using Sylvia Gunter's Prayer Portions.  This book is a wonderful guide for many types of prayers.  Awesome!  Buy your copy today! 
Hanging out on the floor.  We were at the beach....a few weeks ago. 
Brooke and Blair.  Ages 6 and 4 months.
Eating donuts at the beach in Florida. 

May you press on in your quest to parent well.  Press on, press on, in the wonderful words of the Apostle Paul.  Being a mom is a major role.  Are you going to finish well? 

Thank you for reading my post, I truly thank you.  Have a blessed day!   


Hugs!  -BETH 



Friday, August 26, 2011

Chicken Gyros- Guest Blogger, Amanda Brown

I have met a wonderful new fellow blogging friend, Amanda Brown.  Her blog is called My Heart's Desire.  She shares delicious recipes and, the following looks amazing!  Thanks Amanda!  

Chicken Gyros
Several weeks ago, David and I visited a local eatery (Terrace on the Green for you locals) that served delicious traditional gyros, and like many visits to restaurants, we leave craving a menu item for days...so I set out to make chicken gyros at home.  The traditional lamb used in Greek restaurants is complicated to prepare at home, but chicken is a suitable alternative!

The following recipe is adapted and combined from two sources...Annie's Eats and Kalyn's Kitchen.   Serve these delicious gyros with this Traditional Homemade Hummus I recently posted!

*Please note that both the chicken and tzatziki sauce require being made ahead of time.  Read recipe for details. 

Chicken Gyros

For the chicken:
4 cloves garlic, pressed
Juice of 1 lemon
2 t. red wine vinegar
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping T. plain yogurt
1 T. dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or equal amount of chicken tenderloins (if using breasts, butterfly to maximize marinade on surface of chicken)

For the tzatziki sauce:
16 oz. plain Greek yogurt 
(you can use regular plain NOT NON-FAT yogurt if Greek is unavailable, but you must strain it the day before...Yogurt Straining tutorial)
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded (see below)
3 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 t. white wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

For finished gyros:
Flatbread (in deli section next to pita bread)
Fresh tomatoes, chopped
Red onion, sliced thin

To prepare chicken, combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.  Whisk together, mixing well.  Add the chicken to the mixture, coat well, cover, and allow to sit in refrigerator for one hour.  Do not over-marinate...the lemon juice will begin to "cook" the chicken.

Cook the chicken either in oven or in skillet.  Oven...bake at 375 degrees until cooked through, about 25 minutes.  Skillet...allow a little oil to heat in medium temp skillet.  Add chicken and cook until done.  

Remove chicken from oven or skillet, allow to cool for a few minutes, and slice into strips.

To prepare tzatziki sauce, peel the cucumber with a potato peeler, slice it longways, and remove seeds with a pointed spoon (like a teaspoon).  Picture below.  
Chop cucumbers and remove as much water as possible by squeezing with paper towels.  

Place the cucumbers, garlic, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice in a food processor and process until cucumbers are finely chopped.  (You can test salt after mixing with yogurt in next step.)  If there is an excess of water, use the corner of a paper towel to soak up a bit more.  

Then, combine cucumber mixture with Greek yogurt (or strained yogurt), mixing well.  Add salt to taste as desired.  Refrigerate for about two hours to allow flavors to mingle.

Heat flatbread in microwave or for a very short time in the toaster.  Top with chicken, tzatziki sauce, chopped tomatoes, and red onion.  Serve immediately.  
Enjoy!

Serve with Traditional Homemade Hummus, pictured below!
Visit My Heart's Desire Recipes for other ideas in the kitchen!
Linking to:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cooking School

Wow!  Such a fun class!  I attended a Viking Cooking School course this week and...I highly recommend it!  Find something you love to do and, do it with ALL your might!  I love to cook!  What do you love?  Cultivate it right away!  Hobbies are so great for the soul!!!


We arrived and, they had this AMAZING olive appetizer on the table:
 The Viking Cooking Institute kitchen--so professional! 
Celebrating our friend's birthday...sweet Melinda...
 My dear friends are cooking...this course was very "hands on"...
 We prepared this wonderful almond lemon cake...divine! 
Our wonderful instructor, Gail. 
 We prepared eggplant parmesan and, we were proud!!! 
 This is the soup we prepared:  Orzo with fresh spinach and parmesan cheese, it tasted SO good!!! 


I highly recommend the Viking Cooking Institute.  Find a local cooking class in your area as soon as possible.  Grab a few friends and, sign up...you will LOVE it! 






Monday, August 22, 2011

While We Wait

How often do you wish there were just a few more hours in your day?  Me too!  My life in this season is chalked full of times of waiting.  I wait in the car line to pick-up my children from school, wait in doctor's offices, wait for the Memphis train to pass...on and on, you get the picture!  During these precious minutes, I want to get some important things done.  I consider my car my "office away from home".  You really can get a LOT accomplished in the comfort of your car.  


Here are the items in my "Waiting Bag" this week...full and ready, at any moment.  Try it out...I promise, you will truly feel like you squeezed the most potential out of your day!  This is truly what I call, "waiting with FLAIR".  


Here is my bag.  This is by Oilily.  They no longer carry this bag, but, I am positive you can find a great looking bag, either on their website or, try, Target.
Trying so hard to get through my "One Year Bible" this year!  Determined...
Drinking more water is SO good for you!...keeps your complexion clear, your kidneys flushed...on and on...
Always needing to review my schedule and my calendar...my husband says I am "CEO" of keeping our home...this is a huge job and, I love it! 
 Real Simple...how I adore this publication!  Very inspiring and helpful. 
 I am a big believer in the old-fashioned written word.  Encourage someone today with a hand written note.  Tell your child's teacher you appreciate them, or, write a note to your best friend and, tell him/her how much you treasure them.  These DARLING notecards were designed by LIBBY LU.  Aren't they cute?  Thanks Kelly! 
 Do you struggle with memory verses?  Keep a stack in your car and, you will be surprised at how many times you will have a moment to review one.  These cute memory cards can be purchased at Lifeway.   
 Grocery list!  There are always items needed from the grocery store.  My five little kiddos can consume some food!  Keeping an ongoing list helps me a lot.  The "E" is for Elizabeth...my "formal" name...ha! 


Flair Note for Fall:  Notice my dark nail polish?  Go ahead and get ready for fall with dark nails.  My favorite shade?  Lincoln Park After Dark, by OPI.  Love it! 


Get your "waiting bag" ready today!  You will be so glad you did!













Saturday, August 20, 2011

Parmesan Encrusted Tilapia For Dinner



Here is an excellent fish main course for you!  I purchased these Parmesan encrusted tilapia fillets at Sam's Club and, they are divine!  Very healthy and low fat.  Roast some asparagus and, toss a green salad and.....oh my....you have a wonderful and tasty dinner.  Really good!  The best part?  You can keep the package in your freezer and be ready to prepare these any time you need a great weekend or weeknight dinner. 


ENJOY!!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Candle of the Month- August

I cannot say enough positive things about this AMAZING smelling candle!  I have been burning it for the past several days and, I want the leaves on the trees in our yard to turn orange, brown and red NOW!  Do yourself a favor and "fall up" your home....order this candle and, you will love it!  From Bath & Body Works.

DELICIOUS!!!  



Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ultimate Chicken Fingers- DELICIOUS!

I made these chicken fingers on Tuesday night and, WOW!...We could not stop eating them!  My husband gave me the ultimate compliment....."I think this is one of the best meals you have ever made."  


These chicken fingers are good enough to serve at a casual picnic or, even, for a formal dinner.  You have got to make these right away!!!  Easy and, truly tasty!
You can make extra and send them to school for your child's lunch the next day.  


I tripled this recipe for my family of six.  There are seven of us, but, one infant....so, I am not counting her.


My sweet daughter, Brooke (6 1/2 years old), loves to help me cook and, since this recipe involves shaking the chicken in a Zip-loc bag to coat, it was super easy for her to help.  She was thrilled! 







2/3
cup Original Bisquick® mix
1/2
cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2
teaspoon salt or Garlic salt
1/2
teaspoon paprika
3
boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
1
egg, slightly beaten
3
tablespoons butter, melted
Heat oven to 450ยบ.   Line cookie sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray.  Mix Bisquick mix, cheese, salt and paprika in 1-gallon resealable plastic food-storage bag. Dip half the chicken strips into egg; place in bag of Bisquick mixture. Seal bag; shake to coat. Place chicken on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken. Drizzle butter over chicken.Bake 12 to 14 minutes, turning after 6 minutes with pancake turner, until no longer pink in center.

Makes 4 servings

Recipe Credit:  I found this on the back of the Bisquick box. 


Linking to:


This Chick Cooks
The Lady Behind the Curtain

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back-To-School and Back-to-Healthy Kid Meals

My daughter started first grade yesterday and, my, how the time has flown!  We have had the neatest summer...we spent 4 weeks out-of-town and, countless hours at our local swimming pool.  We had many special moments together and, we also had very casual suppers...from the pool side grill (chicken fingers, French fries) and, eating out often while away, at the lake and the beach. 

With the start of school and hints of fall here in Memphis (our morning temperature yesterday was 67 degrees)...I am inspired to prepare weekly menus and, creative 'kid friendly' meals.  My main 'ingredient'?  I am a weeknight quick cook.  I prefer to prepare simple, healthy and fast meals.

My children devoured these easy honey and raisin carrots last night.  


Place one small bag of frozen carrots in a bowl.  Add 1/4 stick of butter, 1/4 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of raisins.  Microwave on high for 4-5 minutes, covered.  The butter and honey melt into a wonderful syrup.  Toss the carrots and serve.

I buy the organic chicken nuggets from my local grocery store.  The cheese toast is simple to prepare as well....place a small hand full of grated Colby Jack cheese on a slice of whole grain bread.  Broil for 3-4 minutes until cheese is melted.  Wah Lah!  Your meal is complete and ready to serve.  




My sister-in-law, Kim Holt, recently shared a wonderful meal planning website with me.  She has been raving about it!  Check it out:  E-Mealz.  Easy to sign up and, very budget friendly.  I love "tricks" for meal planning! 


Happy "Back-to-School" time!  Thank you for reading my post!  I really appreciate ya'll!  Have a great start to your fall!  







Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Wonderful Guest Room

Carolyne Roehm is truly an expert on wonderful style and design in the home.  I have collected each of her books over the years and, often pore over the pages in order to infuse myself with lovely ideas.  She describes her passion for creating a wonderful guest bedroom in the following article.  The next time you have a guest in your home, take extra care to ensure that they feel welcome.



Guest Rooms Head
I shall never forget the first time I stayed in an amazing guestroom. It was in the 1970s in the Dominican Republic at the home of Oscar de la Renta and his first wife, the late Franscoise de la Renta. She was the consummate, chic French woman with great style and an eye for detail. Staying in her well-appointed room with its heavenly scent from classic Rigaud candles (nobody in the United States had high-quality scented candles in the '70s), delicate, paper-covered pencils from Italy, pristine linens and beautiful soaps, was like spending a weekend in a palace.



I learned so much by observing Franscoise. She was the first person I knew who really elevated this aspect of hospitality to the level I like to think I do now in my own home. Over the years I have honed in on what I consider to be essential characteristics of the perfect guestroom. From fabric-covered shelves and good quality hangers in the closet to a basket of washed fruit in the room, I strive to make every aspect of the guestroom well intentioned. Some might say I’m a bit of a fanatic when it comes to the details… In the high-flying '80s, one newspaper claimed that I even pumped the smell of fresh-baked croissants into my guestrooms! I laugh when people insist that I go to such extremes, but better that than having a reputation for scratchy sheets and already-used soap in the shower.  


As you prepare your home or beach house or boat for the summer season of entertaining and weekend guests, keep in mind that all of the small details, from good pillows to a stash of toiletries, add up and create an inviting and comfortable space. Making the extra effort says, “You are important to me, and I want you to have a nice experience.”

Carolyne Roehm
Carolyne Roehm

Carolyne Roehm

Carolyne Roehm
Pictures and Article are by Carolyne Roehm 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Arugula and Watermelon Salad


Watermelon and Arugula Salad
For the vinaigrette:
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
4 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the salad:
1 small watermelon, seeded, rind removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 package (5 oz.) baby arugula salad blend
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
For the vinaigrette:
In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice and red wine vinegar. Slowly add the oil in a steady stream, whisking to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For the salad:
In a large salad bowl, toss the salad blend, watermelon, feta cheese and pine nuts. Add the vinaigrette to taste and gently toss.
Makes 6 appetizer or side salads.
Tip: Fresh mint leaves add an interesting zing to this refreshing salad.
Source: "Simply Salads" by Jennifer Chandler
Recipe and Picture Credit:  The Commercial Appeal.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

BALANCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

This article is SO convicting and, I had to share it with you right away!  The guest blogger is Passionate Homemaking.  This is good!  Let me know what you think! 


Social Media – Inspiration for Finding Your Balance

Written by monthly contributing writer, Trina Holden.
My addiction was out of hand. Though I knew it was unhealthy, I indulged multiple times a day, couldn’t go 24 hours without withdrawal symptoms, and constantly made excuses for my habit.
A Confession…
My vice? Social Media. This tool – wonderful for networking, business, and ministry – was taking more from me that it was giving. It was stealing vast amounts of time and leaving me stressed and burnt out. I knew I wasn’t the only one with this problem (I could name plenty of people who were worse than me – one of my many excuses!) but I didn’t know what to do about it. I needed to use this tool – how was I to keep it in balance?
An Experiment…
Then I heard about a friend who took a month off Facebook. Just the thought of such a sacrifice caused my typing fingers to start twitching nervously. That was a sure sign to me that my addiction was out of hand and needed to be addressed. So, I took the plunge and – without even saying goodbye – I gave up facebook for a month.
It was an incredible season, opening my eyes to all I was missing in real life when I let myself get sucked into the virtual, synthetic “Home” of my facebook page. Facebook seems designed to distract, to never let you finish a thought or task, with so many links on every page pulling you further and further into its time-sucking, mind numbing, stupor inducing  grasp – Ahhhh! Taking a break helped me regain vision and balance in my online time.
A Commitment…
Even as I realized the need to stop letting facebook use me, I was learning how to use social media to market my business, glean valuable information, and find mentors for everything from blog-building to mothering.  In fact, since my fast, I’ve re-entered facebook, joined twitter, and am more committed to my online presence than ever. This  presents the challenge of staying in control even as the opportunities to get sucked in and waste time have multiplied. It is a constant battle, requiring regular re-evaluation and lots of prayer, but I’m committed to the challenge of finding balance in this media-saturated world.
Here are some practical ways I manage the tool of social media…
  1. I only visit my personal Facebook page three days a week. Do I miss stuff? Yes. Has it killed me? No. As fun and fascinating as facebook can be, I’ve never read anything I couldn’t live without or couldn’t have learned by calling a friend.
  2. I do the same thing with Twitter – every other day. Another incredible tool, another dangerous time-waster.  I figure, if something is really good, it will make it to my feed eventually.
  3. I read my favorite blogs through an RSS feed (essential for saving time) and constantly sift through the blogs I subscribe to, keeping to a lean list of the very best blogs for me to expose myself to in this season. (Lindsay taught me this)
  4. At least once a week (usually on Sundays and lately, at least one weekday) I stay off the computer for the entire day. I schedule posts for my blog in advance, and let email go for a day. This gives my mind a chance to breath, refreshing and sharpening my vision for all areas of my life.
The Fruit…
These simple boundaries have been very effective in keeping my online time balanced and productive. I’ve experienced much personal growth in the past year, due in large part to my online mentors and research. Also, my schedule has been freed up to invest in real life relationships. After, all, that’s what we’re really called, to, right? Besides the pivotal relationships of being a wife and mother, we need the honesty, accountability and fellowship of real-life friends. Face-to-face trumps facebook every time.
A Challenge…
  1. Just for a day – Track how much time you spend on facebook or your favorite forum or networking site.  List 3 things you would rather have done with that time. Tape the list somewhere you can see it whenever you log on. 
  2. Do this test – scroll through your RSS, Twitter, or Facebook news feed and take a survey of all the the news that is actually relevant or of personal interest to you. Take it a step further and judge how much content actually enhanced your relationship with God or inspired your unique calling or passion.
  3. This week - Choose one of your online friends that you have an email or phone number for (or live within driving distance to!) and make the effort to contact them on a more personal level. See what kind of fun and fellowship ensues!
  4. Take a trip – go to a really popular blog in a niche you enjoy. Take the time to check out the links the author recommends. Compare the enjoyment and input you receive from purposeful reading to an hour of casual blog-hopping or browsing your facebook feed.
It is my desire that my computer time glorify God.  It’s so easy to lose sight of that goal and slip into casual interaction and low quality input. I pray these tips can inspire you to use the internet wisely, to build up your home and deepen relationships.
What do you do to keep perspective, manage your time, and make the most of social media?