Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Strawberry Lemonade

Use a lemonade recipe (this one looks amazing!) and add 6 frozen strawberries pureed in a blender/food processor. Not only does your lemonade taste better, it turns a beautiful shade of pink. 
If you're not in to the strawberry pulp (it does add another element to your pink lemonade), just add the frozen strawberries to your lemonade to give a pretty contrast and color to your pitcher. 
And, by the way, does it date me that I can't get the song "Strawberry Wine" to stop playing in my head while I type this?...
Also linked with Things I Love Thursday.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cake Balls and Meatball Soup

I have been wanting to try these since a friend made these for her boys' birthday party, so when we needed a treat to make the oldest's birthday special at school, we dove right in. And I do mean that literally. The fun thing about cake balls is that you really get to use your hands! The oldest really enjoyed helping!
Step 1: Bake a cake mix according to directions and allow to cool. 
Step 2: Dump that cake into a large bowl and mix thoroughly with a whole container of icing.
We used a strawberry cake mix and a strawberry icing.
During this process I caught myself complaining that the little flakes in the strawberry cake mix were actually strawberry candy and had absolutely no nutritional value. Then, abashedly, I realized these cake balls are for fun and are not meant to be anywhere near healthy!!

 Step 3: Form icing and cake mix into small balls (an inch or inch and a half in diameter).
Step 4: Place cake balls in freezer for an hour or more to harden. 
Believe me, you don't want to leave this step out! I couldn't figure out why my cake balls were falling apart, so I called the friend I mentioned above. She soon set me straight, and the frozen cake balls were much easier to work with!
 Step 5: Melt chocolate chips on the stove top according to the directions on the bag. Place cake balls into chocolate and gently roll with a spoon. Scoop out of chocolate, place on wax paper or foil. Stick a lollipop stick into the top and sprinkle (if desired) with colored sprinkles.
There are tons of variations for these out there; I can imagine these as a big hit at any party!
And as for real food this week, how about a little meatball soup? (I guess I'm in to eating round items this week!) I put this together with some corn muffins last night for a great rainy day meal:
Meatball Soup
1 pound turkey
2 t Italian seasoning
1/2 cup cracker crumbs
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
Mix ingredients for meatballs, form balls and brown on the stove.
1 gallon water
2 cans diced Italian seasoning tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
6 beef bullion cubes
8 oz. elbow pasta
3 carrots, diced
1 cup frozen corn
Bring water and next 3 ingredients to a boil. Add carrots and meatballs. After 3 minutes add elbow pasta. After 3 more minutes add frozen corn. Quickly bring back to a boil. Simmer all ingredients for another 10 to 20 minutes.
For the rest of the week we'll be having leftovers, homemade pizza, zucchini bread, green beans and baked chicken, and taco salad.
Have fun and enjoy!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fun Mom: Kid's Menu

Forgive my drawings, but here is our summer kid's menu for lunches. The kids think it's cool, it makes things easier for me, and it reminds us that we don't always have to have peanut butter sandwiches. (What is that picture beside hot dog, anyway?) Did you notice that all of these lunches are super cheap? Feeding three kiddos can get expensive, but with a menu like this, we keep variety and save money!
Here's an example of the "cracker stacker lunch." I'm still serving lunches (on the back patio--less mess) from pencil boxes and the kids are still thrilled to open up their lunches each day. This is very convenient for making lunches in the morning; then if we want to take off for the park or the water steps or wherever, lunches are ready to grab and go.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Drama Queen

A couple of days ago we had one of those days around here. One of the kinds where the littlest screams for almost the entire day, and at the end of the day you fall into bed exhausted and realize you have no idea why she screamed so much. I mean you know that she screamed because she didn't like the dress-up dress you put on her and she screamed because the door closed behind her and she screamed because you buckled her in the car (and she wanted to do it herself) and she screamed because she didn't want to take a nap and she screamed because she woke up too early from her nap... But really you have no idea what all that screaming was for. And you pray (passionately) that whatever it was will be fixed by a restful night's sleep and that tomorrow will be different. I did pray and it was different, thanks be to God!
My friends and I talk a lot about how to discipline our children--how to respond when those fits happen. A wise friend told me yesterday that victory was only won when she did not enter the mood of her child at all. The victory was not dramatic and the change was subtle, but she could tell that the Holy Spirit was involved. What I went away from that conversation thinking is that I expect too much from discipline. Discipline (my discipline) doesn't, really is not made to, hurry change. It is a slow process. And whether I am disciplining behavior with a slow steady consistency or whether I am disciplining to the heart with creative discipline, the affects  may not show for quite a while.
So back to the princess up there, hiding her face...Next time one of those days come, I'm going to pray for peace--the fits will come, and I will respond, but I don't have to worry if the fair maiden doesn't immediately radiate sunshine. I'll trust the big changes to her loving King.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

10 Basic Specific Carbohydrate Diet Recipes

This is a repost from February but worth putting up again because of its unique recipes.

A friend of mine recently found out she had a condition that required her to follow the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). When my friend first told me that she was cutting grains and starches of all/most kinds out of her diet, I was floored. "What do you EAT?" I wondered. And the truth was, she wasn't eating much. Salads and plain slabs of meat kind of lose their wonder after about the 100th day! After a while she began searching out recipes, and the challenge of finding recipes safe for her to eat began to entice me. So, here's a list of recipes she's given me and recipes I've discovered (or am suggesting) for SCD. I'm going to skip the ones heavy in substitutionary flours because those flours can get expensive. I'm also going to skip the (sometimes quite wonderful) things you can do with just cooked meat or just cooked veggies. This hunt is about finding recipes that use mostly regular ingredients with only small amounts of those substitutionary flours. Oh, and I am relying heavily on this listing of legal vs. illegal foods for those on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
So here goes:
1. This first one is a suggestion that I've shared with readers before as edible play dough. This is definitely fun to play with, but, it could make a great sweet, healthy snack as well. Peanut butter is (so I've read) something that those on this diet should not take in too much of, but this recipe could also use almond butter or cashew butter (yum!).
Peanut Butter Balls
Mix 1 cup instant nonfat dry milk, 1 cup peanut butter, and 3 T honey. Form dough in small balls and enjoy.
2. Here's a recipe from an SCD Recipe site that my friend recommended:
Egg Noodle Soup
Blend 3 eggs, 1 t water, and 1/2 t salt. Spread on heated and greased frying pan and allow to set. Flip to cook other side slightly. Flip out on a towel and cut into strip. Add these noodles, 1 cup chopped chicken and 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables to 6 cups chicken broth. Season to taste.
3. I found this one here and I think it would be a standard go-to if I were following this diet. Even though it calls for some unusual (and therefore expensive) ingredients, it doesn't use very much of any of them. The great thing about these is that you can leave out the honey and vanilla and add a pinch of salt to use them to wrap savory ingredients (see suggestions below.)
Crepes
6 eggs

1 tsp coconut oil

½ tsp vanilla essence

1 Tbs coconut cream

1 tsp honey

3 Tbs coconut flour
Combine the eggs with the coconut oil, vanilla, coconut cream and honey and whisk until light and frothy. Add the sifted coconut flour and combine. The consistency of the batter should be the same as normal crepe batter. It should coat the back of spoon but be quite thin.
Heat a little oil in a frying pan on medium and pour about 3 Tbs of batter into the pan. Lift the pan by the handle and roll the batter over the surface of the pan until the whole surface is covered. It only takes around one minutes for the crepe to brown on one side. Turn it over and brown on the other side.
4. Savory Crepes: Make the above crepe for savory ingredients. Choose one kind of meat, a cheese, one or two veggies, and one of these home made salad dressings. (There are 9 different kinds to choose from!) Examples might be ham-swiss-spinach-poppy seed dressing/chicken-cheddar-no sugar bacon-zucchini strips-italian dressing/turkey-carrots-green leaf lettuce-ranch dressing. These all sound yummy and easy to me.
5. Sweet Crepes: Make the above crepe for sweet ingredients. Chop and heat 1 peach in a bowl with 2 T water and 1 t honey. Bring just to a boil. Pour peach mixture into crepe and fold crepe over. Top with SCD safe yogurt. (I am making myself very hungry.) 
6. I love casseroles, so I was especially looking for some that my friend could put together. Here's one from this site that sounds very yummy to me.

Zucchini Egg Casserole 
1/4 C water, 1/4 t salt, 1 lb. zucchini (coarsely chopped) 1 T butter, 1 C sliced fresh mushrooms, 1/3 C chopped onion, 4 eggs beaten, 1 1/2 C shredded Cheddar cheese, 1 2-oz. jar diced pimiento (drained), 1/8 t garlic powder, 1/4 t salt, 1/8 t pepper 
Boil zucchini in water and salt for about 7 minutes, stirring often. Drain well and set zucchini asisde. Saute mushrooms and onions in butter until tender. Add remaining ingreients and zucchini to sauteed vegetables and mix well. Pour into a greased baking dish. Bake at 350 F (180 C) until eggs are set.
7.  This is just a group of vegetables, but since the combination makes me salivate just thinking about it, I thought I'd share: Mushroom Broccoli Medley has the wonderfulness of being cooked in bacon grease and tossed with bacon. I know the SC Diet recommends not too much bacon, so you'd have to make this a different week than #9.
8. Here's a recipe my friend says she's been enjoying a lot lately. They strike me as something every momma would want to have around the house for the kiddos (and herself too, of course. If I were making them I would use 2C whole wheat flour and 2C AP flour.) This recipe is also from scdiet.org. This is my token high substitutionary flour recipe.
Almond Flour Cookies
4 C of almond flour, 1/3 C melted butter, 1/4 t baking soda, 1/4 t salt, 1/2-1 t SCD-legal vanilla, 1/2 C honey, 1/2 C raisins, 1/2 C unsweetened coconut flakes, 1 T natural peanut butter, 2 eggs 
Cook dough balls of this mixture on two cookie sheets at 350 F degrees (180 C) for 6-8 minutes and then flatten them with a fork. Lower the temp to 300 F (150 C) for another 10-12 minutes. Every few minutes alternate the two sheets on the oven racks. Use heavy duty cookie sheets that are extra thick to help avoid burning.
 9. I'm sure that those who are on the SC diet do A LOT of tweaking recipes. This recipe for Chuck Wagon Stew could easily be tweaked for this diet.  I recently put rutabaga (legal according to this list) in a beef stew instead of potatoes. You could do the same for this hearty comfort stew. Chop it well and it will take just a little longer than potato to cook.  Use frozen green beans (put them in when after rutabaga has cooked about 20 minutes.) And chop a fresh tomato to put in about 10 minutes before serving the stew.
10. How about ending with an appetizer/ calorie booster? These Green Bean Bundles sound very yummy. Leave out the sugar, use homemade bullion,  and make sure the bacon is low sodium, no sugar.
So I'm certainly no expert, but even just making this list has given me a huge admiration for those of you who have to follow any kind of strict diet. It would be hard to look for recipes you could use just because you have to weed through so many (that sound yummy and) that are full of taboo foods. I hope this helps a teeny bit--even if it's just knowing that someone else sympathizes!
Linked with Menu Plan Monday and MMMmonday.Linked to Tempt My Tummy TuesdayTuesdays at the TableAnything RelatedDelicious DishesSlightly Indulgent TuesdayTuesday TwisterHearth and Soul Hop, Don't Waste Your HomemakingGraceful Abandon's Blog HopCreative BloggersTuesday Tastes, and Tasty Tuesdays over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Shades of GreenLinked to Top Ten Tuesdayand Lucky Linky Tuesday What's Cooking Wednesdayand It's a Keeper

Monday, June 20, 2011

Children, Go Where I Send Thee

Imagine this: you have a pretty well-off judge and his probate-officer wife who are getting near retirement age. The wife at least has always dreamt of golf games, leisurely days, and playing with her grandchildren for their retirement years. But God calls them away from the norm. The judge is quite comfortable running from the authorities while helping and sharing the gospel with needy Cubans, but God calls them away from this as well.
Where does this "normal" couple end up? In a large borough of London helping to grow a church plant where seven other church plants have failed. This is where they live. Their friends are the well-educated successful young adults and the slightly older drug dealers of the borough. Evidently the borough (of about 200,000) where they live is quite a mix of the wealthy elite, with nice parks and beautiful houses, and the poor and destitute, with government housing and drug deals. In the 200,000, there are about 100 Christians.
Each time the judge spoke of the post-modern people in that borough who needed Christ, he could hardly choke out the words through the tears of his passion. He spends his days passing out leaflets, hosting Bible study "gigs," attending book clubs, and making friends with whoever will talk with "a washed up southern judge" (his words of himself). The wife spends her days knitting in a tea shop to attract other ladies with friendship and knitting lessons and standing alongside her husband in what he does. She is sweet but shy so when she hands someone a leaflet on the street, she often thinks, "Don't ask me questions! Go over and ask my husband!" But still she is there living her life among these people.
A few months ago a well known drug dealer of the borough sought out the judge as he was handing out leaflets at a grocery store. The man had a newspaper in his hands and he was obviously distraught. The news story he was reading was of gang murder that the drug dealer was sure his 18 year old son was a part of. He was right in his assumptions. After the judge had talked to him for quite a while he asked, "Do you want to receive Christ?" The drug dealer answered, "Where else can I go?" This drug dealer has since given up his dealing and has even joined the judge on the streets handing out leaflets. He has begun to attract many of his friends to the church.
The wife told of how their church has no children. In a church with an attendance of 40 or 50 on a Sunday morning, there is only one mom who has an infant and another pregnant woman. In order to attract families, the church needs to reach out to the children of the neighborhood. An attendee of the Bible Study gig, an outspoken Catholic has offered to teach a soccer clinic at the church! Because of his friendship with the judge, he wants the church to grow even though he attends somewhere else.
As the couple shared in our Sunday School yesterday, it was easy to see that God is using them. But they told the high points of their year and a half in London. There are long months when no people stop to talk, when there are no newcomers in the church. Reaching out with The Truth to a culture that believes there is no common truth can be very discouraging.
Their story certainly stirs up something inside of me. It makes me thankful for my community, my friends, and my busy but easy life. But it also makes me long for something more. Here is where I am called right now--I firmly believe that parenting is my calling right now. But what is next? Easy days of beach trips and playing with the grandkids? Maybe. That can definitely be a calling too. But maybe not. It is hard to tell where a loving God will send his children when they are willing to go. All I can pray is, "Use us for Your Kingdom, Lord! Use us for Your Kingdom!"
Linked with Motivate Me Monday and Makes My Monday.