Monday, December 26, 2011

Lemon Yogurt

For Christmas, my parents surprised me with a case of lemon yogurt.  Now, what am I going to do with 24 cups of lemon yogurt? I can't imagine eating it plain, although I think David might.

Here are some recipes I found that will make use of this tangy-ness:

What would you make with lemon yogurt? 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cookies galore!

The cookie swap I participated in this year has posted all the wonderful cookie recipes involved in the massive 22,000 cookie trade.  Can you believe that? 22,000 cookies were mailed around the US and the world earlier this month! Makes my eyes go way wide!

Check out all the delicious cookies (and beautiful cookie shots) here and here.

Bonus points if you can spot the special gingerbread cookies Kat, Marina & I made.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Secret Gingerbread Cookie Recipe Revealed!

Thanks to the great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, today I will reveal the recipe of the most delicious gingerbread cookies I've ever had.  My wonderful friend and baking extraordinaire, Kat, from Walk Slowly and Carry a Camera   agreed to share the coveted recipe for this cookie swap.

But before we go into the recipe, I just wanted to reflect: this was the first cookie swap I've ever participated in and it was awesome! There is a special kind of joy about getting cookies of an unknown variety in the mail and I even found myself giddy while waiting in line at the post office to mail mine off.  Thank you Love and Olive Oil for connecting me to this cookie swap! I look forward to participating again next year!

Thank you Bake Eat Repeat for mailing me absolutely amazing soft and chewy ginger spice cookies cookies! They were delicious!

And now....drumroll please....the recipe!!

3 cups flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp group cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses or think honey
1 egg


1. Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt into a large bowl.

Beat butter and brown sugar in a separate bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add molasses and egg; beat well.

Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until well mixed.

(It should have this consistency)

Press dough into a thick flat disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

2. Preheat oven to 350*F.  Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness on lightly floured work surface (don't be shy on the flour!)
(Don't be shy with the flour, it will keep your gingerbread people will shaped)

Cut into the gingerbread with cookie cutters of your choice. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.

3. Bake 8-10 minutes or until ledges of cookies are set and just begin to brown.

 Cool on baking sheet 1-2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

(This is just the beginning of the 6 dozen cookies we baked)

Decorate cooled cookies as desired.


(Can you call it foul play when it is so irresistible? :P ) 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's Walnut Time!

Since we have this sitting on our kitchen counter:

I am making this:

Thanks Eat Good 4 Life for the wonderful idea! 

Here are some other walnut-iriffic recipes I am trying out with our mountain of walnuts:

So much deliciousness to make, so glad that pretty squirrel doubles as a nut cracker! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cookie love

I am absolutely stoked about participating in my first ever Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap this year!    I will be making my cousin's secret recipe fabulous gingerbread cookies, but until then - here are a few other cookie recipes I intend to make before Christmas:

And the ultimate ambition, I'll be finally tackling the Snickers Bar from Bon Appetit... I've had my eye on this one for a few months now, and finally with winter break upon me - we're going to make it happen! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Is it too ambitious...

to sign up to make apple grape pie from scratch for Thanksgiving dinner? I've never made a pie before but I was smitten by this gorgeous pie from Bon Appetit:

It's just so beautiful! I am going to try to pull off the leaf look too.. Going to practice this week, but first I need to pick up a rolling pin.. Sad that I don't have one yet, huh? Shows how much I bake! :) 

UPDATE: I made the pie and it was delicious!! So glad I tried, and now I have a rolling pin so their is no baking obstacles to stop me now.. I have an endless list of cookies and baked goodness I want to make.  Sigh :) 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

View from my kitchen window...a poem

view from my kitchen window

2011 - the world is a place of pain, brokenness, suffering, greed, confusion
But I wake up to the sunrise peeking through my window
The man of my dreams holding me tight
The colors of autumn leaves flying around outside
And all is right for a minute.

The cover of Time magazine reveals world problems
Uncertainty of what tomorrow brings
The kitchen may not be in one piece 
But I am warmed by a cup of hot cocoa 
And my feet are not cold
And all is right for an hour. 

Children without love
Parents without a means to provide
Families without homes
Seems like all has fallen apart
But a smile from a child who has lost everything
Makes the world right for a day. 

Darkness fills the street
Sirens rush to help
People shouting
But I hear a sound - singing
A song of love, a song of Christ
A choir of voices singing proudly
And I know that all is still alright. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Style muse: Pippa Middleton

I adore Pippa Middleton's style... So simple, classy, yet elegant. Definitely copying some of her looks this fall, because copying is the highest form of flattery - right?  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

The harvest is plenty!

(Image via Flickr)

We received the bounty from the CSA we are participating in - and there are a lot of goodies in it this week! We have kale, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, beets, tomatoes, watermelon, potatoes and eggs!  

Here is what I am planning on making with all this deliciousness:

What are you having for dinner this week? 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The return...

Sitting in the car dealership waiting room, I found myself with a couple extra moments and beginning to realize, wow - have I really not posted anything since July 6th?  Slightly unbelievable, but then I remember all the millions of things that happened over the last 4 months...

1. We bought a fixer-upper house
2. I started a new job.
3. We bought a fixer-upper house

So basically, all free-time has been swallowed by survival mode living.  But now, things are finally settling down (or so I feel since I'm trapped in this surprisingly cozy waiting room) and I am excited to get back into writing and making note of all life's wonderful things.  

I am excited to start posting before and after photos of our house, because we are very close to having some decent "after" shots.

Until then, here are some images from my recent trip to the local farm... Isn't Oregon breathtaking?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pop Rocks Ice Cream Float

This is absolutely amazing! Had it for the 4th of July and will definitely be making it again, and again, and again.  It is that good!  Thank you Love and Homemade Recipes for the idea! 
3 scoops of vanilla ice cream
1 envelope Pop Rocks candy, flavor of your choice
1 cup chilled lemon-lime soda

Place a scoop of ice cream in a tall glass; sprinkle with one-third of the candy. Repeat layers twice. Top with soda. Serve immediately. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dinner This Week

Image via How Sweet It Is

I have my very last final of my college career this week! Woohoo! This is truly a monumental week for me, so I'm celebrating by eating delicious food. Excited to have a meal plan for this week actually, its been awhile since I've put together a plan. 

Saving this one for later: 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

2011 Eurovision Recap

Overall, this year's Eurovision was a disappointment.  Barely any of my favorites made it past the semi-finals and the top 10 did nothing short of making me groan in agony. I guess my taste is not necessarily that of the voting population in Europe.

In any case, here are my favorites.  Feel free to post your favorites.

My absolute favorite, probably for its cuteness and uplifting vibes:

I also enjoyed:

Italy's Raphael Gualallazi with Madness of Love. It felt so Italian and romantic.

Beligium's With Love - all done acoustically.  Such talent! I don't know why they didn't get into the finals.

Belarus' belched a patriotic anthem - I Love Belarus.

Denmark's New Tomorrow by A Friend in London was inspiring.

Lipstick by Jedward from Ireland is pretty fun and wacky.

Yet, somehow this song won. Why?!?

Anyways, what are your favorites? If you aren't familiar with Eurovision and are curious, wikipedia has a pretty good summary (of course).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Picnic Printable

Last week I gushed about my love for picnics. This weekend, I accidentally came across a super cute picnic printable.


Polka Dot Print Studio shares a fun tutorial on how to make picnics even more awesome with these cute bags for your picnic deliciousness. Thanks Polka Dot Prints for this great tutorial and template

Friday, May 20, 2011

Butternut Squash Lasagna

My husband had this at our community group and said it was delicious.  I was stuck in Gladstone with a flat tire, so I missed out - but I'm saving this recipe for later.  He said it was that good :) Thanks Caitlin for the recipe!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Love: picnics!

One of my favorite things about summer are all the picnics.  There is a special joy I find in sitting on a blanket in the sun and eating. Somehow, everything tastes better outside in the sun.

Then there is the laughter that surrounds. The kiss of the sun as you turn the page of a gripping book.  And the gentle touch of those you love that are right there on the blanket with you.

Basically, picnics are awesome.

Some of my favorite picnic finds come from World Market:

This picture makes me very happy:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Slow cooker favorite: Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers

As you can tell by now, I am a lover of slow cooker recipes.  I've shared slow cooker soups, meats, and today I am making Italian Stuffed Peppers.  

Keep in mind, for this recipe you will need cooked rice, so if you have some left over from a previous day, that is ideal.  Otherwise, you'll want to plan ahead to make sure you have enough time. 

If you are pressed for time in the morning, you can prepare the filling for the peppers the day before and refrigerate until stuffing. I should have done that, to save the stress of making sure I could get out of the house on time. 

Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers
serves 4

1 onion, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
4 red, yellow or orange bell peppers
1 slice white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
1/4 cup whole milk
12 oz Italian sausage removed from its casing
1 small zuccini, cut into 1/4 inch peices
3/4 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
3/4 cup cooked rice
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt & pepper
2 tbp minced fresh basil for garnish

1. Microwave onion, garlic, oil, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes in bowl, stiring occasionally, until onions are softened (about 5 minutes).

2. Cut top 1/2 inch off each pepper.  Chop pepper tops fine, discarding stems.  Remove core and seeds from peppers. 

3. Mash bread and milk into paste in large bowl using fork. Mix in onion mixture, chopper pepper tops, sausage, zucchini, monterey jack, cooked rice, parmesan and 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper using hands (I used fork). Pack evenly into cored peppers.

4. Pour 1/3 cup water into slow cooker.  Place stuffed peppers upright in slow cooker.  Cover and cook until peppers are tender, 4-6 hours on low. 

5. Using tongs and slotted spoon, transfer peppers to serving platter, discarding liquid in slow cooker. Sprinkle with basil and additional parmesan and serve. 

(Image above via Why Vegetarian

Friday, April 22, 2011

Relationship for survival

Image via Velvet Morning

"Let us not make a mistake - that the hunger is only for a piece of bread.  The hunger of today is so much greater: for love - to be wanted, to be loved, to be cared for, to be somebody." 
Mother Theresa

I've been thinking a lot lately about the importance of relationships and friendships.  It was God's design for us to need each other - need to love and be loved, need to hear and be heard, need to connect and be connected with.  It is vital to our existence to have relationships with each other.  Without them, we are slowly stripped of our human-ness.

I am glad this was the theme during our church's prayers this week. I would like to continue this prayer - that we will continue to seek relationship with each other - not in superficial, self beneficial ways, but that we will join each other in our struggles, strengths, joys and hardships.  That we will value each other and be available for each other.  

This song is a continuation of my prayer: 

I need you, you need me. 
We're all a part of God's body. 
Stand with me, agree with me. 
We're all a part of God's body. 

It is his will, that every need be supplied. 
You are important to me, I need you to survive. 
You are important to me, I need you to survive. 
(repeat 3X) 

I pray for you, You pray for me. 
I love you, I need you to survive. 
I won't harm you with words from my mouth. 
I love you, I need you to survive. 
(repeat 8 X)

It is his will, that every need be supplied. 
You are important to me, I need you to survive.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Discovered a new game today...Blurt! Apparently its a pretty popular game, but it was the first I've heard of it.  It was in a random collection of card games at work - pulled it out and played with a group of students - they had a blast and it seemed like we all learned quite a bit.

The point, from what I understood, is to guess what word is being defined. The first person to guess the word being defined advances.  This was great on two levels - it made reading and thinking about how things are described competitive, and it built the student's vocabulary. The students were practicing their English language skills in reading, comprehension and listening, while also getting a good laugh.  It was great seeing their progression from resisting the challenge of the game to completely embracing it, gaining confidence and consequently thinking quicker on their feet.

 It was fun for the kiddos, but I can see it being a blast at an adult game night as well.  I'm going to have to pick it up for myself now! 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Do you believe?

Last week at work I was, possibly for the first time in my life, asked directly what I believed.  The ten-year-old Muslim girl threw me off guard when she asked me if I was a Muslim.  I replied that I wasn't.  She then prodded and asked if I went to church.  Finally, she looked me directly in the eyes and asked, 

"Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God?" 

Wow. Never has any adult asked me this so directly, and coming from a child I was, to say the least, a little unprepared.  I replied "yes," to which she boldly responded, "well I don't believe that God had any wives or children."

At this point a million thoughts ran through my mind: do I engage her in this conversation and explain the trinity and the details of my beliefs (which I was probably unprepared to eloquently do), or do I respect the rules of keeping religious talk out of the workplace? What would happen with whatever I said - how would she respond? Would I get reprimanded for sharing this information? I wondered how many other people she asked this and what came of those conversations. 

But what came out of my mouth was, "what do you believe?"  To which she didn't respond and then, to not make her dwell in the awkwardness, I asked what other beliefs she knew about.

We talked a little about various religions and beliefs people held, but before we could get into anything of significance, it was time to leave.  I really cannot stop thinking about this small encounter.  I am sure I will see this girl again, and my prayer is that she will continue to be curious and to ask questions.  I pray also that God will give me the right words to say and also for the other people she will most likely talk with.  Regardless of any silly mistakes on my part, I am sure God has His heart and eye on her and all things are working together for His good.

This encounter was also a great blessing for me, because it made me start thinking seriously about what I believe and why.  Various religions hold true to their roots and there are some things they do not compromise.  As Christians, we should never compromise the reality of Christ and the power of His death and resurrection, both what it means in our lives and what it means in the larger sense for the world.  I am no theological scholar - but I know it is important to acknowledge my brokenness and accept the healing and restoration that comes from Christ alone.  Whenever I have strayed from this truth, my spirit strongly suffered and my identity became out of whack.  My identity is tied up with Christ, and apart from Him I am nothing.  

I hope this Easter is full of meditation and focus on what Easter is truly about. 

Here are some songs I am listening to this week, in preparation for Easter:  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Crockpot favorite: chicken tortilla soup

Definitely a keeper, although next time I might add some corn to add a little more body to the soup. 

Photo via Fat Free Vegan

Tortilla Soup from The Slow Cooker Revolution
serves 6 to 8

1 tbs vegetable oil
2 tomatoes, corred and chopped 
1 onion, minced
2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced (I used half of a poblano pepper and it worked fine)
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp minced canned chipotle chile in adobo 
1 tbs tomato paste
8 cups chicken broth
10 cilantro stems, tied together with twine 
1.5 lbs skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
salt & pepper

4 cups tortilla chips
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
lime wedges, for serving

1. Heat oil in 12 inch skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add tomatoes, onion and half of jalapenos and cook until onion is softened and browned, 8 to 10 minutes.  Stir in garlic, 1 tablespoon chipotles and tomato paste and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds).  Stir in 1 cup of broth, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker. 

2.  Stir remaining 7 cups broth and cilantro stems into slow cooker.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until chicken is tender 4-6 hours on low. 

3. Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly , then shred into bite size pieces (if there is bone, you can remove it now too).  Let soup settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using a large spoon. Discard cilantro.

4. Stir in shredded chicken, remaining jalapenos and remaining teaspoon chipotles (if you want to add more spice) and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste (I found the soup already flavorful enough so did not add any salt or pepper).  

Place tortilla chips in serving bowls, ladle soup over top and serve with cheese, avocado, sour cream, cilantro and lime wedges.  

Thursday, March 31, 2011

International Pillow Fight Day

When's the last time you had a pillow fight?  Yeah, I can't remember either.  I was pretty surprised when I stumbled upon info on International Pillow Fight Day - which is this Saturday - celebrated all over the world.  Literally, every continent will be celebrating:  Brazil, Australia, Ukraine, South Korea, you name it.

Of course Portland isn't going to pass on such a quirky festivity. The joy starts this Saturday at 2pm at Director Park in SW Portland.  More info on rules and such can be found here.

I might stop by just to see a bunch of adults going at it. I'll bring a pillow, because it looks pretty irresistible...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Brick by brick

Photo by RaeoLight

"God is building a home. He's using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he's using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home."

 - From Ephesians 2

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Love: tea tins for flowers and herbs

Growing herbs in tea tins on the kitchen windowsill.  Love this idea. Definitely saving it for when I have a kitchen with a window!

Also awesome are flowers in tea tins.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Crockpot favorite: preserving flavors

I was very excited to come across Slow Cooker Revolution, which addresses my biggest concern with crockpots - lack of rich flavor.  Ten test cooks spent a year figuring out ways to intensify and preserve flavors during the slow cook process and live to share their results.  I've already skimmed through and see some interesting ideas I haven't thought of before, like using the microwave or oven to prep ingredients for the slow cook process or making a foil packet to keep veggies from overcooking or losing too much flavor.

I am excited for this type of wisdom to take my much loved slow cooker meals  from good to out of this world great.   Stay tuned - I will surely be posting my favorites from this new book. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday cupcake love

So I didn't end up making the pretty marshmallow flower cupcakes today - instead I made these Devil's Chocolate w/ Raspberry Creme Cheese Frosting cupcakes.  They turned out delicious. Thanks Kat for suggesting raspberry creme cheese frosting!

They are an absolute delight for the mouth and easy to make, considering the cupcake itself is made from a cake mix.  I didn't have the appropriate cupcake decorating supplies, so I poured the frosting into a ziplock bag, snipped off a little corner and went to town. 

1. Make Devil's Food cake mix according to package instructions - put into cupcake pan. 
2. Make frosting.
3. Decorate.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting
makes enough to decorate 24 cupcakes

1 stick butter, room temperature
1 block (8oz) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup raspberry jam

1. Beat butter on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy
2. Add cream cheese and beat on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy (30 seconds-1 minute)
3. Sift powdered sugar over creamed mixture and beat on medium low until the sugar is all incorporated 
4. Add jam and continue beating.

Note: Make sure you don't overbeat or else the frosting will become soupy.  Also, its cream cheese frosting so if you don't refrigerate it, it will start to sag.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Best cookies ever

cookiesmores (4)
(Photo by Steph from Obsessed with Baking)

Was in the baking mood today making cupcakes when I came across the Smores Cookie recipe. Of course I had to stop what I was doing and make these. And it was worth it.

The cookies are truly fantastic - the batter is delicious on its own, but then you add the chocolate and marshmallows...absolute goodness!  I will definitely be making these many times again.  

Smores Cookies
Adapted from Obsessed with Baking 

Makes 2 dozen cookies

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups miniature chocolate chips
1 cup mini marshmallows* 
1 Hershey bar chopped

1. With a mixer, combine the butter and sugars until fluffy. 
2. Mix in egg and vanilla until combined. Add the flour, graham crackers, salt, and baking soda, mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips.
3. Refrigerate dough for about an hour.
4. Preheat oven to 375ºF 
5. Drop by rounded tablespoon (I used an ice-cream scoop) onto cookie sheets. Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven. Push 2 to 3 marshmallows and a few pieces of a hershey's bar into each cookie. Return to the oven and bake an additional 2-3 minutes until fully cooked. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

*Note: I had large marshmallows and cut them up - definitely much stickier way to do it but still works. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Welcoming spring with a bunting banner

This weekend I celebrated the oncoming of Spring by making a bunting banner for the bathroom.  It was  super easy and instantly added some Spring color to the most important room in the house. Plus, because it was hanging on a mirror, the reflection from the back made it look like we have two banners hanging.  Makes me want to sing Double Rainbow

Thanks Odessa May for the inspiration!
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