Granny's Orange Jello Salad

I hate to admit it, but there seems to be a Jello legacy in my family!  No meal was complete without a dish that contained Jello.  This recipe from my paternal grandmother was included in a cookbook that her church published.

Granny’s Orange Jello Salad
3 oz. orange Jello
1 c. boiling water
8 oz. crushed pineapple
1 c. sour cream
2 c. vanilla ice cream

Mix together, pour into mould and chill.

Quick and Easy Coleslaw

Here’s a recipe that lives up to its name—quick and easy.  It’s a perfect complement to grilled chicken or burgers.

Quick and Easy Coleslaw
28oz. bag of shredded cabbage with carrots (coleslaw mix)
1 c. mayonnaise
3 T. sugar
¼ t. pepper
2 T. milk
2 T. vinegar
¾ t. salt
1 t. celery seed

Combine cabbage and carrot.  In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients.  Stir into cabbage mixture.  Chill.

Summer Strawberry and Spinach Salad

Raspberry Orange Vinaigrette ½ cup canola/olive oil blend (I use only olive oil.) 1/3 cup raspberry vinegar 2 tablespoons orange juice Sea salt to taste Ground pepper, to taste ¼ cup fresh chives, chopped (opt.)

Salad 4 cups spinach leaves, washed and dried 1 pint strawberries, washed, hulled, and quartered ½ cup sliced alonds, toasted ½ cup feta cheese crumbles Combine oil, vinegar, orange juice, salt, pepper and chives, blending well with a whisk. Arrange spinach, strawberries, almonds, and feta on a platter.  Toss with ½ cup vinaigrette. Serve remaining dressing on the side.  Serves 4-6.

February Organization Challenge

The 2011 Organization Challenge is in full swing at my house!  I think I did pretty well in January. I am happy to say that I have completed a major project and have begun two new ones.  (I was never good at math…)  I am grateful for your comments of support and I’ve decided to post personal updates more frequently (I’m hoping for weekly updates, but not promising…) for those of you who may be interested in how things are progressing in my neck of the woods.  I won’t be sending those updates by email, but they will appear on the “Articles” page of the website.  Any comments or helpful hints you would like to post  will be greatly appreciated!  So here is my January update… During Week 1, I cleaned out my old planner and organized it so it was ready for use.  I also set some goals, but we had an out-of-town guest so I wasn't able to finish the list.  I haven’t gotten around to that yet, but I’m hoping to have some time this weekend.  Week 2 was easy because I already had a schedule that needed only minor adjustments.  Actually, I plan to make a few more minor adjustments for next week.  I spent Week 3 recording birthdays and other events in my calendar.  It’s been great to have them all in one place.  And Week 4, well it was a challenge.  I tried to use one to-do list for the entire week, but I found that didn’t work so well.  I am now trying a daily list with a 5 item per day limit—besides my daily work.  Overall I was more productive, but not as focused as I would  like.

The February Challenge It’s been said, “The kitchen is the heart of the home.”  The focus this month is bringing order to the kitchen and our food responsibilities including planning meals, making a grocery list, and preparing meals.  Food requires us to make so many decisions throughout the week—what to buy, which brand, what size, where to store it, how to fix it, when to have it.  My goal this month is to organize and clean my kitchen and to simplify my experiences with food—aggressive goals, I’ll admit.  Let’s get started!

Week 1:  Collect Recipes and Organize the Pantry Collect Recipes Begin this week by gathering all of your unbound recipes—magazine and newspaper clippings, 3x5 cards, or typed pages.  Gathering recipes may seem like a waste of time, but truly it will save time in the long run.  When you need a recipe it will be at your fingertips.   Here are two options for storing your recipe collection, listed from simple to more time-consuming: OPTION #1:  Purchase a three-ring binder (with an inside pocket) and 3-ring pocket folders or dividers.  Sort your recipes into piles based on regular cookbook divisions.  Label the folders and put the proper recipes in each folder.  Be sure to return the recipes to the proper folder after each use. OPTION #2:  Make your own family cookbook.  Purchase a 3-ring binder, page protectors, and dividers—I think the plastic pocket dividers work best.  (I keep all published recipes in the folder pockets or print them directly from the website.)  Make a recipe template and enter each recipe on a separate page; combine two shorter recipes that are in the same division.  Print the recipes on cardstock and slide them into the page protectors.  I suppose you could hole-punch the recipe pages, but the page protector protects the recipe from food drippings.

Four years ago I started our family cookbook as a present for our oldest daughter.  I’ve made several cookbooks for family and friends, adding new recipes each time.  And since I have digital copies of my favorite recipes, I am able to print them or email them to friends.   Yes, it does take time, but it is worth it.

NOTE:  Be sure to copy only recipes that are not already published.  Electronic storage of copyrighted recipes is illegal.

Organize the Pantry Next, we tackle the pantry or the cabinets where you store your food.  I feel very blessed to have a pantry, but the process is the same for those who don’t.  First, take everything out of the pantry and wash each shelf.  Then, start by grouping like things together.  Here’s a tour of my pantry just after I organized it in January.  A little personal, but maybe it will spark some organizational ideas.

The top left shelf is for my coffee maker and the large stock pot to make my Grandma’s Chicken Corn Soup.  The top right shelf is for paper products.  I discovered that sometimes Styrofoam rained down on my head, so I put my disposable plates, cups, napkins, and silverware in a box.  I don’t have to worry about reaching to the very back of the shelf, either.

The second shelf on the left is for my vinegars, molasses, and a few things don’t use very often, in addition to “extras” that I buy for something that is just about to run out.  It’s much easier to make a grocery list when you know what you have.   The second shelf on the right is for pasta and rice.  Since the bags sometimes got lost in between things, I put the rice in plastic storage containers and taped the instructions on the back of the container.  You can't really see them, but they are behind the large bag of noodles.

The third shelf on the left is for larger containers of oil and honey.  The third shelf on the right is for all of my canned goods organized so I can find them easily:  starting at the far right, tomatoes and tomato products, then beans and other veggies, then canned meats in the back and fruits in the front, and finally soups and pumpkin when it’s in season.

The fourth shelf on the left and right is for my baking supplies:  oatmeal, shortening, and on one side and sucanat, honey crystals, lecithin, and gluten on the other.  (Yeah, I’m trying to get away from using shortening, but the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies just don’t turn out the same.)

The fifth and bottom shelf on the left is for cereal.  We kept the cereal on the lower shelf so the kids could get out and put away the cereal when they were younger.  Notice we have a large container to store cereal that we purchase in bulk in bags.  It’s so much easier for storage and for the kids to use.  On the right side I have some canisters that previously held white sugar and white flour--we still use them sometimes, but not every month.  I'm planning to make some changes to that shelf this week.

The drawers under the shelves give extra room for smaller things that don’t store neatly.  The set on the left is for coffee and baking supplies such as nuts, chocolate chips, and sugars.  The set on the right is for envelope mixes, potatoes, onions, tea bags, and grocery bags to recycle.

The shelves on the door were an idea I borrowed from a friend.  The left side door has large spice containers on the top two shelves and the bottom two are for smaller boxes or bags of whatever we have—raisins, craisins, croutons, cornbread mix, The right side door has more baking supplies like salt, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, on the top shelves and pudding on the bottom shelf.

In case you’re wondering, the rest of my spices are in a cabinet near my stove and my plastic wrap and foil are in a drawer.

Take a good look at your space (and your budget) and decide if you could make better use of your space by investing in some shelving or other organization tool.  I find that I save money when my pantry is more organized.  I don’t buy duplicates of food I already have, I am able to see and use what's available, and I’m more content to cook and eat at home because I haven’t spent a lot of time searching for the ingredients.

Week 2:  Planning a Weekly Menu and Making a Weekly Grocery List Planning a Weekly Menu Planning a weekly menu may seem unnecessary, but it will save you time and money.  It will save time spent standing in front of the panty or refrigerator hoping that meals will throw themselves together like Ezekiel’s dry bones.  It will save money because you will purchase ingredients for specific recipes and not merely items that look good.  Yes, it still takes time to make a weekly menu, but the time is well spent.

Make a divider in your planner/household notebook for Menu Planning.  Make your own form or use this combo form for menu planning and as a grocery list.

Here are some suggestions to help you make a weekly menu plan. OPTION #1: Pre-Planned Menu When I was making a gift purchase at Dave Ramsey’s website, I noticed an advertisement for E-Mealz, a business founded by two moms who create a weekly budget-friendly dinner menu and the accompanying grocery lists for regular, low fat, low carb, and gluten free menus based on the grocery store where you shop. The cost is $15 for 3 month subscription, billed quarterly.

A few weeks ago I took the plunge and subscribed for the next three months.  I logged into my account and printed the menu and the grocery list.  Menu done.  Grocery list done.  That was nice.  So far our family has really liked most of the recipes—an amazing feat for girls who are more “selective.”I can’t recommend it yet, since I've used it for only two weeks.  I’ll let you know how it works after I’ve used it for at least a month.  For those who might be interested, you can check it out here: E-MEALZ Easy Meals for Busy and Frugal Families.  To be fair, I want you to know that if you sign up from the link, I’ll receive some sort of credit.  I’m not even sure how that works.  Like I said before, I haven’t used it long enough to strongly recommend it but it is an option.

OPTION #2:  Freezer Cooking About 10 years ago, I was a desperate homeschool mom.  With two toddlers and two in elementary school, I found it difficult to get a decent meal on the table.  While shopping at a homeschool curriculum fair I purchased a freezer cookbook from 30 Day Gourmet, a combination recipe and instruction book of how to cook once a month and freeze all the meals.  I knew I could never do the “once-a-month” cooking, but the thought of having meals in the freezer was very intriguing. (I do not have a freezer, but I do have an extra frig in the garage.)  The recipes were simple, didn’t include too many or exotic ingredients, and seemed family-friendly.  True enough, the family did like the recipes and I liked the idea of having a homecooked meal on even the busiest of day.  Today my freezer cooking goes in spurts.  Here are two ways I’ve used the cookbook.

Big Cooking Day

  1. Purchase a cookbook or peruse some recipes from 30 Day Gourmet.
  2. Choose 3-4 recipes and choose how many of each you plan to make.
  3. Make a grocery list based on your recipes and the number of dishes.  Don’t forget to include metal pans or Ziploc bags to other containers you’ll need for freezing.  I think about the large roll of ground beef and figure out how much I can make using the entire roll or I consider how many dishes I can make from the large bag of frozen chicken.
  4. Choose a cooking day—at least 6 hours.  I find it easiest to have a “beef day” and a “chicken day”.  For instance, I brown a lot of meat at one time or I may make several meat loaves.   It’s similar on chicken day when I boil and shred a huge quantity of chicken.
  5. Assemble your meals in the proper container.  Whenever possible, I use Ziploc freezer bags.  They’re easy to label and I can fit many flat bags in my regular freezer.
  6. Be sure to label your meal—what it is and when you made it.  If you’re like me, you think you’ll remember, but then several dishes have tomato sauce and chicken and you’re not certain how long that bag has been in the freezer…
  7. Enjoy your frozen meals.  Most meals can be taken out of the freezer in the morning or be baked from the frozen stage.

Slow Start Up

  1. Purchase a cookbook or peruse some recipes from 30 Day Gourmet
  2. Plan your meals for the week.  Choose 2 frozen meal recipes for each week and  make 2 batches of each.
  3. Make a grocery list based on your recipes and the number of dishes.  Don’t forget to include metal pans or Ziploc bags to other containers you’ll need for freezing.
  4. On the day you plan to have your frozen meal, make two batches of the meals—one to eat for dinner and one to freeze.
  5. Assemble your meal in the proper container.  Whenever possible, I use Ziploc freezer bags.  They’re easy to label and I can fit many flat bags in my regular freezer.
  6. Be sure to label your meal—what it is and when you made it.
  7. After several weeks, you’ll have a collection of several frozen meals that you can choose from on the days you are unable to cook.

OPTION #3:  Consider the Crockpot My crock pot is my friend.  My mother never used a crock pot for her family of 5, but I’m not sure why.  It is  a convenient way to have a warm meal ready when you don’t have time to cook.   My biggest issue is that I only have a few good crock pot recipes that our family likes, but those few regularly find their way into our winter menu plan.

Planning a Weekly Grocery List Once you have a weekly menu, it is simple to review each recipe for ingredients you’ll need.  Record what you need on the grocery list portion of the menu planning form.  Also, when you run out of something during the week, add it to the grocery list.  I’ve taught my kids to do this, too.

Shop once a week for groceries.  When you start with a list and stick with the list, you save the money you would've spent on snacks and ingredients for recipes you think you might make.  Once-a-week shopping  also keeps you out of the grocery store for the rest of the week, which saves even more.

Week 3:  Clean the Appliances Appliances work so hard for us and they get little thanks or attention.  This week, choose to spruce up one appliance each day.  I realize that many of you may not need specific instructions, but I included them for those who haven’t been taught.  There may be a better way; I’m only relaying what I’ve been taught.  I am also planning for my daughters to help so I can pass on the knowledge.

The order you clean the appliances doesn’t matter, but it would be logical to save the bigger jobs for the days that you aren’t as busy—if there is one of those days in your week.  Since you’re inspecting these work-horses so closely, you may also want to make a page in your notebook for a “to do” list of things that need to be repaired or parts that need to be replaced.

Monday—Clean the stove Remove the drip pans and soak them in a sink of hot water.  Raise the cook top and clean under the burners.  Use water and vinegar or some other grease-cutting cleaner for the cook top and back splash of traditional stoves.   Use an approved non-abrasive cleaner for ceramic cook top surfaces.  For years I didn't realize that the knobs on the back of the stove could be removed for easier cleaning.  Remove all knobs, clean the surface and the knobs, and then replace the knobs.  Use steel wool to make the soaking drip pans sparkle like new or purchase new ones if they’re too far gone.  Lastly, replace the drip pans.

Tuesday—Clean the dishwasher Start on the inside and empty any food from the trap.  Wipe down the inside walls and the inside of the door, giving special attention to the sides that tend to collect food as the dishes are loaded.  Protect your dishes from rusted racks.  Consider replacing the rack or purchasing small caps to put on the tips of the rack.  (BTW, white duct tape doesn’t work.)  We searched online and found a new rack for a reasonable price.  Lastly, finish by shining the outside of the door and all knobs.

If you don’t have a dishwasher and you ARE the dishwasher, take a bubble bath and clean the dishwasher.

Wednesday—Clean the sink and garbage disposal For a porcelain sink, use a non-abrasive stovetop cleaner or an abrasive cleaner with bleach for an older sink.  To clean a stainless steel sink, use aluminum cleaner or a non-abrasive cleaner.  Clean the garbage disposal with frozen lemon juice ice cubes or disposal a lemon cut into fourths.

Thursday—Clean the microwave and any appliances on your counters Fill a mug with water and bring to a boil—about 2 mins. on high.  This will loosen any baked on dirt.  Remove the glass bottom; wash and dry.  Using a dish detergent solution, wipe down the top, both sides and the bottom.  For grease, use a solution of vinegar, water and a little ammonia.  Replace the glass bottom.  Clean every outside panel of the microwave.

Clean the appliances on your counters such as toaster, toaster oven, coffee maker, food processor, bread machine etc.  Wash the components and then wipe down the outsides of the appliances.

Friday—Clean the refrigerator and freezer Prepare a bowl of warm water and a small amount of dish detergent.  (Most manufacturers recommend NOT using a stronger cleaner.)  Starting with the top shelf, take everything off the shelf and use a wash cloth to wash the shelf with the warm water mixture.  Replace the items that are still good and move to the next shelf down.  Continue the same process with each shelf, working your way down to the drawers.  Remove the drawers and wash them in the sink with dish detergent, and rinse well.  Clean the space under the drawers and then replace the drawers.

Next, clean the door.  Open the door and start with the seal on the top of the door, removing crumbs and dirt.  Remove everything from the top shelf and wipe down the door and shelf like you would a chalkboard.  Check expiration dates before you replace the items.  Use the same process for remaining shelves.

For the freezer, use a bowl of warm water and a small amount of dish detergent.  Take everything out of the freezer.  Remove the grate, if you can, and clean it with the dish detergent solution.  Wipe down the top of the freezer, each side, and the bottom, rinsing your dish cloth often.   Restock only those frozen foods that are still edible.

Next, clean the freezer door.  Start with the seal on the top of the door, removing crumbs and dirt.  Remove everything from the top shelf and wipe down the door and shelves like you would a chalkboard.

Finally, clean every panel of the outside of the frig, including the top.  For textured handles, use a nylon scrubber to remove dirt in the cracks.  Remove the grate/vent from the bottom; wash with dish detergent solution.  Replace the grate and smile at the shining piece of beauty.

Saturday—Clean the oven Clean your oven according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Be sure to remove the racks and clean them separately.

Sunday—Rest! Even God rested on the seventh day!

Week 4:  Clean Cabinets and Drawers Each day this week, clean 2 cabinets and 1 drawer (or clean them all in an afternoon and get it over with!).  Take everything out of the cabinets or drawers.  Clean the bottom of the cabinet, the shelves, and the inside of the door using your cleaner of choice.  Replace only the items that you need.  (See the checklist below to help you decide.)  Clean the outside door of the cabinet or drawer and the handle.

Helpful Hints: Group similar items in the same cabinet or drawer. Don’t be afraid to move contents of drawers or cabinets to a more convenient location. Consider moving dishes to lower cabinets so children can unload the dishwasher. Store Christmas and other holiday dishes in a high or hard to reach cabinet to make better use of the reachable cabinets. Eliminate any gadgets, dishes, pots or pans that you don’t use. Eliminate mismatched dishes. Match plastic storage containers—discard  orphan containers or lids Donate gently used dishes to a newlywed couple or your church kitchen.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

“Sweets for the sweet,” my mom used to say.  We adjusted my mom's chocolate chip cookie recipe and created one of the most baked—and therefore most consumed!—deserts in our home.  These cookies are too good to save for Christmas cookie swaps; they must be made and eaten all year long!

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

Preparation Time: 20 mins. Yield: 3 dozen

Ingredients:

½ c.       shortening ½ c.       butter 1 c.         sugar ½ c.       brown sugar 2              eggs 2 t.          vanilla 2 c.         flour 1 t.          baking soda 1 t.          salt 16 oz.    white chocolate chips or 16 oz.    white baking chocolate cut into small chunks ½ c.       macadamia nuts

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cream shortening, sugar, eggs, vanilla, till fluffy.
  3. Stir in dry ingredients.
  4. Drop rounded spoonfuls on greased cookie sheet or baking stone.
  5. Bake at 375 for 10-12 mins.  (On my stone, 12 mins. for the first batch and 10 mins. for each batch following.)
  6. Remove cookies from baking sheet and transfer to cooling racks covered with wax paper.  (Wax paper helps the cookies stay chewy.)

NOTE:  You may double the recipe, but use only 1 1/2 t. of salt for a double batch.

Chicken Enchiladas

My friend Lucinda brought us this casserole after the birth of one of our babies.  Years later it has become a family favorite. Chicken Enchiladas

Serves: 10-12

Preparation Time: 20 mins.

Cooking Time: 40 mins.

Ingredients:

4-6 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

2 green peppers, chopped

1 lg. onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic

2 T. chili powder

2 t. salt

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

2 cans cream of chicken soup

2 T. lemon juice

4-6 chicken breasts cooked and shreeded

12 7” tortillas

2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease 9x13 dish.

In a wok or skillet, sauté chicken, green pepper, onion and garlic, chili, powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.

Add soup and lemon juice; mix well.

In the 9x13 dish, layer tortillas, meat mixture, cheese, soup. Repeat 2 times. See diagram below.

Bake covered at 350 degrees for about 35 mins, bake uncovered for another 10 mins.

(top)

CHEESE

SOUP

CHEESE

MEAT

TORTILLAS

SOUP

CHEESE

MEAT

TORTILLAS

SOUP

CHEESE

MEAT

TORTILLAS

(bottom)

Merry Organized Christmas

Long before there were organizing experts or special stores devoted solely to organizing, my mom had set up my dresser drawers with separate shoe boxes for socks and “unmentionables.” She color-coded the photo albums, school folders, and even bath towels. Christmas was no exception for her organizational skill.  Mom made lists in September and had her shopping done before Thanksgiving.  Nearly 80 Christmas cards were hand-addressed, signed in her perfect penmanship, and sent on the Friday after Christmas.  The every box of Christmas decorations was clearly labeled and the wrapping was finished long before Christmas Eve.

I am grateful that some of that organization has filtered down to her daughter, but I sometimes wish that my Christmas (and my closets!) were a little more organized.  I believe the key to organization is prior planning and lots of lists (so the information doesn’t have to stay in my head!).  If you’re looking for some tips to better organize your Christmas celebrations, check out organizedchristmas.com. You’ll find a Christmas countdown with a daily assignment, holiday tips, recipes, and printable forms for a budget, gifts, Christmas cards, menus, and lots more. (There are enough forms to keep you busy until next Christmas!)  Certainly it isn’t necessary to fill out each form, but I find it helpful to choose forms that apply to the most unorganized areas of my Christmas celebration.  When I make notes, it helps me better use my time and resources to accomplish my goals.  This year I plan to use the Ornament Journal to record the history of special ornaments that hang on our tree and the Holiday Menu Planner.

Most of all, don’t let the enemy of our soul use disorganization to steal your joy and paralyze you.  Choose not to compare yourself to anyone else and remember you are a precious daughter of the King of Kings.  His love for you isn’t based on your organizational skills.  Ask God to give you direction and help you make a plan.  Do the best you can with the time and money you have, but don’t forget to choose to be fully present in the moment.  Find joy in the chaos of decorating; find joy in the long (and sometimes loud!) trip to visit relatives; find joy in being with friends; find joy in remembering Jesus who was born to give us life, and life more abundantly. (John 10:10)

 

Quick and Easy Christmas Brunch Recipes

I enjoy cooking but I don’t want to spend Christmas morning in the kitchen! Because we save these recipes for Christmas morning or overnight guests, everyone looks forward to this special meal. Not only are these recipes family favorites and Christmas standards for our celebration, but each recipe is simple, can be made in advance, and tastes yummy! Menu

Easy Oven Omelet

Overnight Coffee Cake

Quick Fruit Salad

White Grape Peach Juice (our juice of choice for family celebrations)

Easy Oven Omelet

Ingredients:

16 oz. shredded Cheddar cheese

3 T. all-purpose flour

4oz. can of chopped green chilies, drained

½ t. salt

16 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese

8 eggs

1 ¼ c. milk

8 oz. tomato sauce or salsa

Preparation:

THE NIGHT BEFORE:

Grease 9x13 baking dish.

Layer Cheddar cheese, chilies, and Monterey Jack cheese.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

IN THE MORNING:

Beat milk, flour, salt and eggs.

Pour over cheese mixture.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees until set in center and top is golden brown, about 40 mins.

(Note: If baking Overnight Coffeecake simultaneously, add 10-15 mins. baking time.)

Let stand 10 mins. before cutting.

Heat tomato sauce until hot; serve with omelet.

Serves 8-10.

Overnight Coffeecake

Ingredients for cake:

2/3 c. butter or margarine

1 c. granulated sugar

½ c. brown sugar, packed

2 eggs

1 t. baking powder

1 T. cinnamon

1/2 t. salt

2 c. flour

1 c. buttermilk

Ingredients for topping:

½ c. chopped nuts

3 T. flour

¾ c. brown sugar, packed

3 T. melted margarine

THE NIGHT BEFORE:

For cake, in large bowl, cream butter and sugars.

Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.

Mix dry ingredients.

Add alternately with buttermilk to creamed mixture.

Pour ½ of batter in greased 9x13.

Mix all topping ingredients.

Sprinkle batter with ½ of topping.

Pour remaining batter. Top with remaining topping.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

IN THE MORNING:

In the morning, bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.

Serve warm.

To serve as a dessert, garnish with whipped cream.

Serves 12-15.

Fruit Salad

Previous fruit recipes I tried were limited by the types of fresh fruit available during the winter. The ingredients in this recipe are always readily available, even in the winter. I sometimes add strawberries or kiwi for color, if I can find them.

Ingredients:

1 large bunch of grapes, cut in halves

14 oz. can mandarin oranges, undrained

20 oz. can of pineapple chunks, undrained

2 bananas, sliced

Mini marshmallows, optional

THE NIGHT BEFORE:

In serving bowl, combine grapes, oranges, and pineapple. Cover and refrigerate.

IN THE MORNING:

Add bananas and mini marshmallows just before serving.

Serves 8-10.

Cranberry Orange Relish

I fondly remember many childhood Thanksgiving celebrations at Grandma Ebersole’s home in Lancaster County, PA.  Even as a child I recognized Grandma’s gift of creating incredibly delicious food with such a calm and quiet spirit.  I especially looked forward to the yummy cranberry dish with dollops of cool whip.  As a new wife, I tried unsuccessfully to duplicate the cranberry relish, but fortunately found a similar recipe that has become a tradition in our Thanksgiving menu. Ingredients:

4 c.      cranberries 2          oranges 3          apples 2 c.      sugar

Preparation:

  1. Wash berries and grind through chopper or grate with food processor.
  2. Wash and core apples.  Chop very fine with food processor.
  3. Peel oranges and remove seeds.  Grind.
  4. Combine all and add sugar.
  5. Let stand in frig 12-24 hours.

 

 

Chocolate Éclair Dessert

As my friend Gwen once said, "The best recipes are cold and chocolate."  This one certainly fits the bill.  If we make a meal for a family who just had a baby or we go to a potluck dinner, this is our first choice.  Simple, easy, and very yummy!

Chocolate Éclair Dessert

Ingredients:

1              box of graham crackers 3c.          cold milk 2              4-serving instant vanilla pudding mix 16oz.     Cool Whip 1              container of chocolate icing

Preparation:

      Break graham crackers in half.
      Mix milk and pudding mix.
      Fold in Cool Whip.
      Layer in 9x13 dish: graham crackers, ½ pudding mix, graham crackers, ½ pudding mix, graham crackers
      Melt icing in microwave until spreadable.
      Pour icing on top of last layer of graham crackers.
      Refrigerate for four hours or overnight. (Overnight is best.)

Tomato-Basil Pasta Salad

I love the taste of fresh tomatoes.  One of my favorites is a Tomato-Basil Pasta Salad recipe in my Betty Crocker cookbook.  Copyright prevents me from posting the recipe, but this one is very similar.

..::view the recipe here::..

I can’t wait to make this recipe with fresh basil from the plant my friend Sharolyn gave me.  It’s the perfect summer side dish!

Chinese Chicken Cabbage Salad

This is one of our favorite recipes for summer.  Most of the girls don’t like cabbage, but this tastes nothing like cabbage.  If you anticipate leftovers, serve the topping separately and store it in the pantry.  If you mix the topping with the salad and refrigerate, the crunchy topping becomes soggy. Chinese Chicken Cabbage Salad Ingredients for dressing: 2 T.     olive oil 2 lg.     cloves of garlic 2 T.     soy sauce 1          bunch chopped onions 9 T.     rice vinegar 1          seasoning packet from Ramen Chicken Noodles 2 T.     sugar

Ingredients for salad: 6          chicken breasts ½         head of cabbage torn into bite-size pieces (or shredded coleslaw mix)

Ingredients for topping: ¼ c.     slivered almonds 1          pkg. dry Ramen Noodles 4 T.     sesame seeds

Preparation:

  1. Boil chicken for about 15 minutes.  Cool and shred.
  2. While the chicken is cooking, combine all dressing ingredients.
  3. Marinade chicken in 1/3 of dressing.  Refrigerate for four hours.
  4. Prepare topping by preheating oven to 250 degrees.
  5. Combine all topping ingredients and place on cookie sheet or 9x9 baking dish.
  6. While topping is toasting, prepare salad
  7. Before serving, mix salad, chicken, and topping.
  8. Serve with extra dressing.

Under Construction: Our New Online Store

Some of you may have noticed that our online store is temporarily under construction while we make some adjustments.  When our new store opens, you’ll find some changes.  After much prayer, Harold and I believe that God is leading us to make some adjustments to our ministry. First, we are discontinuing all products that aren’t exclusive to Daughters 4 God.  We will continue to carry our self-published titles such as Lady Day, The Gift of Purity, the audio products, and our sterling silver jewelry.  It is impossible for us to offer the other products at prices to compete with Amazon or CBD.  At this point, I’m planning to review new products for raising daughters, but we will not be offering them for sale.  Fewer products mean less time managing inventory and more time for writing and for ministry at our local church.

Second, we anticipate that our new store will have audio and pdf downloads priced less than a hard-copy product.  Some of you have asked for a “Cleaning Game” download so you don’t have to pay shipping.  We think that’s a great idea and we’re working to make that a reality.  We’re also hoping to add more audio teachings as well as some other books that are in development.

Third, we will not be traveling to homeschool conventions as we have in the past.  (We still haven’t decided about MACHE for 2011…)  It has become more difficult for us to travel together.  Harold took on a new role as Associate Pastor last October which means he can miss fewer Sundays, and the oldest two will be in college in the fall but still living at home.  Yes, we could leave Harold and our two college students behind, but that’s not what the Moore family does.  We’re a team and we minister together.

We believe that this is God’s plan for this season.  We will still look for opportunities to share our heart and our experiences, but just a little closer to home.  That’s a tough one, since we’ve made so many friends over the years.  Thank you for all of your encouragement and support.

Ruth Bell Graham once saw a sign along the road and asked that it be epitaph.  Her tombstone reads:  “End of Construction.  Thank you for your patience.”  I suppose I feel the same way, like I’m always under construction.  There’s another flaw, another weakness, another insecurity that my Creator lovingly reveals to me.  But I’m so grateful that He also shows me His complete sufficiency for every area of my lack.  "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)  “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Phil. 1:6)  His construction process is not always easy or pleasant, but always necessary and beneficial.   Our construction, both personally and for D4G, continues but thank you for your patience.

Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

Strawberry season is here!  Our family loves to pick strawberries at a local farm.  Last year we picked about 40 lbs. of strawberries for frozen jam and shortcake.  Here is our recipe for strawberry shortcake (more like a shortbread) with real whipped cream. Strawberry Shortcake From the kitchen of: Joy Moore Serves: 8 Preparation Time: 30 mins. Cooking Time: 15 mins.

Ingredients for sauce: 1 qt.     fresh strawberries, sliced ¼ c.     granulated sugar

Ingredients for shortcake: 2 c.      all purpose flour ¼ c.     salted butter 4 t.       baking powder 1          egg 6 T.     sugar ¼ c.     milk

Ingredients for topping: 1 c.      heavy whipping cream 2 T.     powdered sugar

Preparation: 1. For sauce: combine strawberries and sugar, and set aside. 2. Preheat oven to 425. 3. Grease round pan. 4. For cake: mix flour, baking powder, sugar and butter.  Batter will be like small peas. 5. With fork, add egg and milk. 6. Put into round pan. 7. Bake at 425 for 15 mins. 8. For topping:  Beat the cream, gradually adding the sugar.

Resurrection Cookies

You will need:1c. whole pecans 1 tsp. vinegar 3 egg whitespinch salt 1 c. sugar zipper baggie wooden spoon mixing bowl waxed paper cookie sheet tape Bible

Preheat oven to 300 F.   Place pecans in zipper baggie and let children beat.    Then with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces.

Explain that after Jesus was arrested the Roman soldiers beat him. Read John 19:1-3.

Let each child smell the vinegar. Put the 1 tsp of vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30.

Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.

Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27.

So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1 c. sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16.

Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12-15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the white color represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3.

Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet.    Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid.    Read Matthew 27:57-60.

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF.    Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus’ tomb was sealed. Read Matt. 27:65-66.

Go to bed.  Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight.

Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed.    Read John 16:20 and 22.

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.           Read Matt. 28:1-9.

HE HAS RISEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Corn Spoonbread Pudding

We often make this family favorite when we have company or take dinner to families with new babies.  It requires few ingredients (you can keep most of them on hand) and takes 5 minutes to prepare.  We pair it with bar-b-q chicken in the crock pot or chicken enchiladas. 2 beaten eggs 8oz. corn muffin mix 8 oz. can cream style corn 8 oz. can whole corn 1 c. sour cream 1/2 c. oil

Combine in casserole dish.  Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.  Add 4 oz. shredded cheese to top and bake 5-10 minutes more.  Double the recipe for a 9x13 baking dish.

Grandma's Chicken Corn Soup

Nothing says lovin’ like my Grandma Ebersole’s Chicken Corn Soup.  It’s the ultimate in comfort food for me.  The soup is delicious, but the story behind it is even better.  I met my grandma when I was just about to turn five.  (My biological father had died when I was three and my mother was engaged to marry a wonderful man whose wife had died of cancer.)   After traveling about an hour we arrived at a big, white farmhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  There was a barn nearby and cows in the field, as I remember.  I was a city girl and this was all new territory.  My grandparents’ house was bustling with several sets of aunts, uncles, and cousins who were yet unknown to me.  The women dressed in simple dresses with white net caps on their heads which I later learned was part of their Mennonite tradition. After proper introductions, I followed my new-found cousins out to the barn and watched as an uncle chopped off the head of a chicken.  (I’m thinking there were two chickens, but I’m a little fuzzy on that.) As I watched it run around, I felt badly for the chicken so I went inside.  Shortly after my arrival, the chicken joined me in the kitchen.  My grandma and her four daughters set into motion preparing what I now know to be “Chicken Corn Soup.”  They began to pick the feathers off the chicken, picking it until it was nearly clean.  I had never seen anything like it.  Then came the corn cut off the cob.  It had never occurred to me that the kernels I ate were the same, ones that had been connected to a cob!  These ladies worked together like well-oiled machinery, each one doing their job effortlessly.  The last element of our meal was the homemade mint iced tea made from the mint leaves I helped gather from the front yard.  This remains one of the freshest meals I’ve ever eaten!

My memories of the soup are precious to me, but the most powerful emotion comes when I remember the kind, gentle woman who warmly welcomed me into her family.  To me, every bite of this soup says, “love” and “acceptance.”   I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as the Moore family does!

Click here for the recipe.

Proverbs 31 Birthday Party for Girls

The girls often talk about their birthday parties as “unit studies.”  I can’t help it.  I’m a teacher.  I’ve been teaching children something for the last 25 years.  Why should birthday parties be any different?  It’s a great opportunity to teach children--they’re a captive audience!  For Abigail’s tenth birthday, God gave me the idea to have a Proverbs 31 Birthday Party.  The party took about three hours for eleven girls who were ages 9-11.  Cutting out the sewing project will shorten the time by about 45 mins. to 1 hour. Invitations: You can use any lovely note card with a lovely cover design and a blank inside.  Buy twice as many and use them for thank you notes.  If you have some computer skills, you can import a photo or design your own invitations.  Invitation-sized envelopes fit a half sheet of paper folded in half.  On the inside, include the title “Proverbs 31 Birthday” as well as who it’s for, date, time, location, address and RSVP.

Preparations: Preparations for each activity are listed below.  I set up “stations” in the locations listed, including all the supplies and instructions I needed.  I also set the table in the dining room where we’d be eating.  Careful, advanced preparations will make for smooth transitions during the party.

Decorations: I chose hot pink paper plates and napkins that coordinated with the invitation.  The activities for the party kept us in different rooms, but we decorated the dining room with pink and white streamers and pink balloons.  Some fresh flowers would be a nice touch.

Activities: I wanted to teach the girls what it meant to be a Proverbs 31 woman.  We began by reading Proverbs 31: 10-31.  (You can read it to them, or have everyone read together.  You can print out a copy of the scripture from www.biblegateway.com.)  Then, we went back to the beginning and read through it again, stopping after we read the verses that applied to our activity.

Cooking (in the kitchen): v.14-15 Recipe for apple crisp here. Before the party:  You may want to cut the apples and store them in some lemon water in the fridge.  I let the girls use an apple peeler with a handle and an apple slicer so we needed no knives. During the party:  Of course you’ll want the girls to start by washing their hands.  I had the girls take turns measuring, preparing and adding ingredients as well as assembling the apple crisp.  We baked it while we did the next activity.

Gardening (outside):  v. 16 Small pots, plastic or clay a cell-pack of plants or seeds small bag of potting soil Before the party:  I set up the table in the back yard so the dirt would stay out there.  I labeled the bottom of the pots before the girls planted their plants so each one got the right container. During the party:  Then, each girl put a little potting soil in the bottom of the pot, put the flower in, and finished with a little potting soil around the sides of the plant. NOTE:  If you choose not to do the sewing activity, you could use the time to decorate clay pots with paint or permanent markers.  Permanent markets can still rub off some plastics.  Old T-shirts can be worn to protect the girls’ clothing.

Sewing (at the kitchen table):  v. 21 red felt red thread satin ribbon Before the party:  To save time, I set up the sewing machine with the red thread.  I used a lightweight red felt so there were no raw edges to fray and cut a rectangular piece (4 inches x 9 inches) for each girl. During the party:  There are many patterns out there, but this is the simplest pattern I could find.  I recommend labeling the pouches somehow so they don’t get mixed up.

Wise Speech (in the family room):  v. 25-26 Before the party:  Write down a few phrases or Bible verses to use in the game. During the party:  Here we played the telephone game.  (Whisper a message down a line of people and of course it gets changed.)  I divided the girls into two groups and gave each group the same message.  We talked about gossip and how it can hurt those around us and how life and death is in the power of the tongue.  (Proverbs 18:21)

A Treasure (at the kitchen table):  v. 10 Assorted red glass beads (I found mine at a discount superstore) Elastic (also from the discount superstore) Before the party:  I first knotted the end of the elastic string.  (You can’t use a regular knot, but the instructions are on the packaging of the string are simple.)  I divided the beads and put the beads and the elastic into small baggies. During the party:  I gave each girl a baggie and let her bead her own pattern.  When they were finished, we had to tie the ends together with the same instructions as the original knot.  I had each girl put on her bracelet so we wouldn’t get confused.  We talked about how valuable a real ruby is and how much more valuable a godly woman is.

Snack Time (at the dining room table):Apple Crisp (made during the party)

Cake Ice Cream Carrots, cut apples, or whatever your family prefers Pink lemonade, juice boxes, or whatever your family prefers

Party Favors: Of course each girl takes the potted flower, the pouch they sewed, and the bracelet they made.  We included an apple crisp recipe card in the “thank you” notes.

Best of all: It was a great party and the girls seemed to really enjoy themselves.  Most importantly, the girls heard God’s Word and what the Bible says about a virtuous woman.  I believe that the party planted seeds in the hearts of the girls that will reap a great harvest in the years ahead.