Monday, November 30, 2009

A Feast for the Heart

Omi's Lebekuchen-1

AFK stands for 'away from keyboard' -- and that's what I've been for the last little bit. Life took over my blog time for a while there. Some good times, some bad.

The good times included a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday -- full of family, fun, food and and football. A good holiday always has those "f-words", in my opinion.  :-)

My whole family came to town, and together we talked, laughed, ate, shopped, cooked...bliss!  The Thanksgiving feast was completely wonderful, with every cook outdoing himself or herself. It was a feast for my tummy, but also a feast for my eyes and my heart. It just felt so good to able to have everyone there together. I needed that.

Life in general has not been too fun lately. Despite a several interviews, we still have not found work. (always the bridesmaid, never the bride) It's a year TODAY that Mr. H was laid off. Not a happy anniversary. So far, I've been able to make things stretch and somehow pay our bills, but it won't last much longer, and hard decisions are being made now.

I hate unemployment/underemployment trials with a purple passion! I hate this recession. I hate how this goes on and on and on! I hate the stress, the worry, the loss of dignity, the "loser" perspective that everyone around has about you (sometimes even family members!), but most of all, the loss of control and power over your own life. I could write a laundry list of all the things that are out of the question when a job loss happens, but having the power over your own choices taken from you is one that I'm having an extremely hard time with right now. But...

...women are steel magnolias. We do the hard things. We roll up our sleeves and "do", even while our hearts break, or we are stifling the urge to run away. So, the next two months will be a bend in the road for us. We'll see what the days ahead will bring.


In the meantime, this time of famine is not going to stop me from continuing this idea of a "feast for the heart".  Gratitude has been my watchword for the past few weeks (perfect for November, huh?) and I think that trying to live that word has kept me from going off the deep end a time or two.

Now the Christmas season's upon us. I refuse to curl up in a corner and bah-humbug out! My family needs Christmas. I can't deliver presents, but I can deliver the season -- everything else that makes Christmas...well, Christmas. I can give my family a feast of the heart.

So that's what I'm gonna do! I've already seen the Lord's hand in this, as He's blessed me with inspiration and creativity when it came to projects I wanted to do, problems I wanted to solve, and plans I wanted to make. I know He will continue to do that. He's also strengthening me and sustaining me to be happy and upbeat -- to have the Christmas spirit despite some very Scroogey realities.

I'll be posting some of the things we're doing here in the coming days.

Can't wait to share them with you!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Words to Live By


Let us give thanks for what we are
and for the circumstances God has given us;
for our personal journey through mortality.

                                         -- Dallin H. Oaks

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Butternut Soup

Autumn Butternut Soup 2

Nothin' beats warm soup and homemade bread on a cold, blustery day. We're talking comfort food, baby!

I'm finding out that soup is pretty souper super -- it's healthy, low-point eating, and better yet -- great for a tight budget. So, we're trying to incorporate soups into our menu planning a little more these days.

Here's a little autumn soup we tried not too long ago. Loved the flavor of the roasted butternut! Perfect for the season. Give it a try and tell me what you think...


Butternut Soup

2 points per serving

1 medium butternut squash (about 3 lbs.), peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes

2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 large onion, chopped

3 celery ribs, chopped

2 Tablespoons minced fresh sage, or 2 teaspoons rubbed sage

3 cans (14.5 oz. each) reduced-sodium chicken broth

cooking spray


Place squash in a 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan lightly coated with cooking spray. Drizzle  with 1 Tablespoon oil; sprinkle with pepper. Toss around to coat. Bake uncovered, at 425° F for 30-35 minutes or until tender, stirring it every 15 minutes.

In a Dutch oven pan, saute the onion, the celery and the sage in the remaining oil until tender. Stir in broth and reserved squash. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until heated through. Cool slightly.

In a blender, puree the soup in batches until smooth. Return to the pan; heat through if needed. Serves 8.


This recipe comes with Parmesan croutons to go with it. We chose not to make the croutons when we served it, but here's the recipe in case you do! Adding the croutons makes the soup a 3 point dish.


Parmesan Croutons

2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon minced fresh sage or 1 teaspoon rubbed sage

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups French bread (1/2 inch cubes)

additional grated Parmesan cheese, optional

cooking spray


In a small bowl, combine the cheese, oil, sage and garlic. Add bread cubes and spritz with cooking spray; toss to coat. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° F for 5-8 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Serve with soup and sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese if desired.


recipe credit: Healthy Cooking magazine, October/November 2009, p.40

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

Margraten Cemetary Veteran's Day remembrance 2

Margraten Cemetery, Netherlands 

To all those fallen and in harm's way ... thank you.


photo from Flickr

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lion House Rolls and Honey Butter

Lion House Bakery Book cover




Oh yeah, Mr. H --
this one's for you!







Lion House Dinner Rolls
4 points per roll

2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
2/3 cup non-fat dry milk (instant or non-instant)
2 Tablespoons dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup butter, shortening or margarine (butter is best for flavor)
1 egg
5 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, or bread flour
oil for bowl

In bowl of stand mixer with flat attachment combine water and milk powder; stir until milk dissolves. Add yeast, then sugar, salt, butter, egg, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix on low speed until ingredients are wet, then for 2 minutes at medium speed.

Add 2 more cups of flour; mix on low speed until incorporated, then for 2 minutes at medium speed. (Dough will be getting stiffer so switch to kneading attachment at this point). Work in the remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is soft, not overly sticky, but workable and not stiff. (You probably won't use all the flour).

Scrape the dough off the sides of the bowl and pour about a tablespoon of vegetable oil down the sides. Rotate the dough ball so that all sides are covered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise til double in size (about 45 minutes).

Flour a surface for rolling out the dough and turn the dough out. Roll and cut as desired and place in a greased pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise again until double in size, about 1 hour.

Lion House Rolls rising

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place the rolls in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Brush tops with melted butter immediately when removed from the oven. Serve warm with honey butter.

NOTE: The Lion House cookbook suggests rolling the dough into a rectangle that is 8 inches by 12 inches then cutting that once down the middle the long way, then cutting that into two inch wide strips (to make 12 2 inch by 4 inch strips). Then just roll the strips up from their short end and place into the pan seam side down. It will look like you rolled individual cinnamon rolls and placed them in the pan on their sides.

Makes 1 to 1 1/2 Dozen Rolls


Lion House Honey Butter 

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup honey

Whip softened butter. Add vanilla and honey gradually. Beat for 20 minutes or until light and fluffy. Makes 1 cup.



Lion House Bakery book cover

Lion House rolls rising

Lion House rolls recipe

Monday, November 9, 2009

King for a Day

Mr. H and the Sweet Girl 

Mr. H had a birthday last week! Despite a terribly tight budget, the Sweet Girl and I were determined to show our favorite guy a good time! The day started out with a small coronation -- complete with a kingly crown,  and a breakfast made to order -- "shipwreck". Shipwreck is all the breakfast foods out there (scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, hash browns) all mixed together. It looks like a shipwreck. Get it?

King for a Day 

After cards, a gift and the birthday song, we gals got 'purtied' up for a trip to Salt Lake. Lunch was at one of Mr. H's favorite spots to eat -- the Lion House Pantry right on Temple Square. Oh my heck; the food there is to die for! The next time I'm going, I'm gonna pass all the delicious entrees and desserts, and load my plate up with nothing but Lion House rolls and their famous honey butter! Yummers. Everything was soooo good. Good choice, Mr. H!

We took a few pictures on Temple Square afterward, and even though the fall weather looked absolutely gorgeous, the cold wind chilled us to the bone!  Brrr.  We didn't stay out too long.

Mr. H enjoyed being "king-for-the-day" for the remaining hours of his birthday. No honey-do's. No chores. No errands. No nagging about hours on World of Warcraft or computer time. He was the King. And kings don't do nothin' they don't want to. :-) He proclaimed to his Queen later that evening that it had been a very good day.

Happy Birthday Mr. H

Happy Birthday, Mr. H!
We love you!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Words to Live By

heart cloud

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant,
to enact gratitude is generous and noble,
but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.

                                               -- Johannes A. Gaertner


Photo: ‘Tree Against Sky With Heart-shaped Cloud’
Photographer: Henryk T. Kaiser

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

PB Cookies with Chocolate Kisses Get these cookies away from me. For reals.  These are so good. I can't think of a better way to get me off my weight watchin' plan.  It's the whole peanut-buttery, milk-chocolatey kissy, slightly crispy sugary thing that gets me. Every time. I'm gonna type out this recipe for you, and then go get my workout clothes on. See ya!

Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

makes 37 cookies


1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1  3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 9 ounce package milk chocolate kisses, unwrapped


Preheat the oven to 375° F. Cream the peanut butter, sugar, butter, and brown sugar. Add the egg and vanilla. Sift the salt, baking soda and flour together. Combine with the wet mixture. Shape into balls; dip into additional white sugar.

Flatten balls with a fork. Bake 8 minutes, remove from oven and press a chocolate kiss into each cookie. Return to oven; bake another 3 minutes.


♥  We put the additional sugar in a ziploc storage bags and toss 3-4 dough balls around in there at a time.

♥  Flatten the dough balls with a fork, but not too flat! Barely flatten the cookie. Makes for a better peanut butter cookie...

♥  We keep our chocolate chips and chocolate kisses stored in the freezer...(must be a thing leftover from our Texas days) and it works well for this recipe. We unwrap the frozen kisses and plop them on the cookies. They keep their shape and don't melt.

♥  Stick to this recipe. Click here to see what happened when I tried to substitute candy corn kisses for the chocolate ones! LOL

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Words to Live By

churchsign get rich quick count your blessings


Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty.

                                                                                         –Doris Day