Catching Up

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Image from Pinterest

It’s the middle of summer already. Summer is one of my favorite seasons. I love the warm, even hot, weather and the long days. I’m usually outside quite a bit during the summer, enjoying the sunshine. This summer has been a little different, though. My last post was in early June, and I wanted to catch you up on why I haven’t posted in awhile.

During the middle of June, I came down with what I thought was the flu–I had a cold and fever, and normally, since I’m pretty healthy, I get over something like that fairly quickly if I get lots of rest. Well, this fever and cold went on for a week and I was feeling worse, so I went to the doctor. It turned out that I actually had pneumonia, and a pretty bad case of it, so I ended up in the hospital for 4 days. After getting out of the hospital, I was supposed to finish recovering at home, continuing to take antibiotics to clear up the pneumonia.

As I was at home recovering near the end of June, I found out that my dear mom, who lives quite a distance from me in another state, had been taken to the hospital. Initially, we thought she would be okay, but as the days and hours went on, her condition continued to worsen. And then, after just 4 days, she passed away. It was quite a shock, having happened so quickly. And such a sad time for those of us who loved her so much. She lived a good long life, but you’re never really ready to say goodbye to those you love and hold close.

The wonderful comfort I have though, is that this is not a final goodbye. I know mom is in heaven with Jesus and with other loved ones who have gone before her, and I know I will see her again. She is very much alive, enjoying all the beauty and wonder of heaven, and when I think of that, it makes me happy for her. It’s also a comfort knowing the Lord is near to me, covering me with His peace.

So I’m continuing to rest and take the last of my antibiotics. I don’t expect to post anything for at least another few weeks or maybe longer, until I get more of my energy back. Thanks so much for visiting my blog even though I haven’t been posting, and for the comments you have left–I appreciate all of you!

Easy Cherry Almond Coffee Cake

Easy Cherry Almond Coffee Cake II @ NancyCI had a can of cherry pie filling sitting on my pantry shelf just begging to be used in something. And then I found a coffee cake recipe at BettyCrocker.com that seemed perfect for this cherry filling–it sounded quick, easy, and looked really yummy! I made a few changes to the recipe and was able to whip up a tasty coffee cake one Saturday morning in a short amount of time–it really was pretty easy to put together and tasted great!

This coffee cake is perfect when you want to make something simple, but also want something a little different! And it’s nice for a weekend breakfast or brunch, when you can linger a little longer over a nice large square of this coffee cake with a mug of your favorite coffee or tea!

EASY CHERRY ALMOND COFFEE CAKE adapted from BettyCrocker.com

Makes a 9×13″ pan

  • 4 cups baking mix (like Bisquick™)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 (21-ounce) can cherry pie filling

GLAZE

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or Half & Half (light cream)
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • Optional: 2 Tablespoons sliced or chopped almonds, toasted or untoasted, for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease bottom and sides of a 9 x 13″ pan with butter or cooking spray.

In large bowl, mix the baking mix, sugar, melted butter, milk, and almond extract. Then add the eggs and mix everything well. You’ll end up with a very thick batter.

Spread 2/3 of the batter in a 9 x 13″ pan. Spoon pie filling over batter and spread to about 1/4″ from the edges of the pan. Drop remaining batter by heaping 1/2 tablespoonfuls onto pie filling.

Bake 23 to 24 minutes, until top batter and edges of coffee cake just start to turn lightly brown (don’t overbake, or coffee cake will be too dry).

While coffee cake is baking, make the glaze: stir  powdered sugar, milk or Half & Half, and almond extract until smooth and thin enough to drizzle.

Drizzle glaze over warm coffee cake, then sprinkle with sliced or chopped almonds. Serve warm or cool–I think it tastes best warm!

Easy Cherry Almond Coffee Cake @ NancyCI do like the added touch of having almonds sprinkled on top of this coffee cake!

Easy recipes like this really come in handy when you’re short on time. Do you have any easy coffee cakes you like making?

Linked to Fiesta Friday.

 

Clothe Yourselves with Kindness

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Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience….And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

COLOSSIANS 3:12, 14 NIV (New International Version)

Image from French Press Mornings

Colossal Cookies

Colossal Cookies @ NancyC

There’s a little cafe I sometimes go to that sells Colossal Cookies. I thought the cafe came up with that name, but apparently there really is a type of cookie that is officially called a Colossal Cookie! They’re typically made with oats, peanut butter and chocolate chips. And you’d never know it, but there’s no flour in these–just a little baking soda!

A friend and co-worker of mine, Rick, emailed me a recipe for these cookies and I also checked one out at Allrecipes–they were pretty similar. I made a few small changes in the amounts of oats and chocolate chips used, and they turned out really well! Some recipes say to flatten the cookies a little with a fork before baking–I tried baking these flattened and unflattened, and I like them unflattened better–they come out a little thicker and chewier.

The batter for these cookies is very thick and there’s a lot of it, so you’ll want to use your largest mixing bowl when you make these!

COLOSSAL COOKIES by NancyC, adapted from Allrecipes

Makes about 34 large cookies

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chunky peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 5 3/4 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In an extra-large bowl, cream butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla extract and peanut butter, mixing well. Mix in the baking soda, then add the oats and chocolate chips until well blended–you should end up with a thick dough). Drop 1/4 cupfuls of dough 3 to 4 inches apart on parchment-lined cookie sheets (I baked 8 at a time on my cookie sheets). You can flatten the dough slightly with a fork if you want a cookie that’s a little flatter, wider, and more crispy, but if you like your cookies thick and chewy, don’t flatten! I didn’t flatten mine.

Bake at 350˚F for 15 to 17 minutes, until cookies just start to turn golden. Cool for a few minutes on cookie sheets, then place cookies on wire racks to cool completely.

Colossal Cookies II @ NancyC

I really love these oaty, chewy, chocolatey, peanut butter cookies! Have you ever made or heard of Colossal Cookies?

Featured on Meal Plan Monday.

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Weekend PotluckInspire Me Monday, Show and Share, Create It Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Favorite Things Thursday.

 

Black Tea Window Cleaner

Black Tea Window Cleaner @ NancyC

Who would have thought that black tea could be used as a window cleaner? I think it’s a great idea–so many people drink it, so they have it on hand, and it’s a great eco-friendly alternative to conventional chemical-laden cleaners. I didn’t come up with this idea myself–the tea experts at Choice Organic Teas, makers of organic, fair trade certified teas, told me about it and sent me some samples of their black tea to try it out! They sent me their Classic Black, English Breakfast, and Wild Forest Black teas–any black tea should work for making the window cleaner.

I used the Classic Black tea and found that this window cleaner is really easy to make. I was also surprised at how well it cleaned my windows! Here’s how you make it:

BLACK TEA WINDOW CLEANER

What you’ll need:

  • a clean, empty spray bottle
  • 3 tea bags of black tea
  • 1 cup of hot water

Directions: Steep tea bags in 1 cup of water for 4 to 5 minutes; remove tea bags and let brewed tea cool. Pour the cooled tea into your spray bottle. Spray on windows and mirrors and wipe thoroughly with a paper towel or cloth.

That’s all there is to it! it’s nice to be able to clean your windows using natural ingredients instead of chemicals, isn’t it? This sure comes in handy for spring and summer cleaning! Have you ever tried making your own window cleaner?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Inspire Me Monday.

Black Bean Avocado Salad

Black Bean Avocado Salad @ NancyC

I’ve been on an avocado kick lately! So I was drawn to this recipe from the new cookbook Lose Weight By Eating (William Morrow, softcover). This side dish has so many ingredients I love–LoseWeightByEatingavocados, of course, along with black beans, red onion, bell pepper, and corn. I just knew I would like it!

There are lots of other great-sounding recipes I found in my review copy. Author Audrey Johns developed more than 130 clean eating recipes during her 11-month weight loss journey, losing more than 150 pounds and proving that you really can lose weight if you’re eating the right things! There’s a good variety of recipes for every meal and healthy desserts, too–things like Chili Cheese Omelet, Strawberry Scones with Lime Glaze, Meatball Sliders, Skinny Chicken Alfredo, California Club Pizza, and Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes.

I decided to try the Black Bean Avocado Salad, which is described in the book as a crisp, salsa-like side dish–and just 131 calories per serving. You can serve it with chips as a snack, or top a chicken breast with it for extra flavor and protein.

BLACK BEAN AVOCADO SALAD from Lose Weight by Eating

Makes six 1/2 cup servings

  • 1 (16-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large bowl, combine the beans, jalapeño, bell pepper, avocado, red onion, cilantro, corn, lime juice, and garlic. Gently mix and add salt and black pepper to taste.

Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour and serve.

I really liked the way this tasted–it’s nice when a dish is both healthy and yummy, isn’t it? Do you have a favorite healthy snack that you like to make?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Inspire Me Monday, Show and Share, Full Plate Thursday, Create It Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, Recipe Round-Up.

Blue Cheese Dip

Blue Cheese Dip @ NancyCIf you like thick, creamy dips and blue cheese, you’ll have to try this! This Blue Cheese Dip is made with plain Greek yogurt (or you can substitute light or fat-free sour cream). I like to use fat free Greek yogurt. I know not everyone is a fan of blue cheese–in fact, people seem to either really love it or hate it. I’ve always liked it. Actually, I can’t think of any kind of cheese that I don’t like!:)

This is a good recipe for summer, if you want to have a snack with fresh veggies. It’s good with crackers or chips, too. And it would also be yummy with something spicy like buffalo chicken wings. It’s super quick and easy to make and if you have time, you’ll want to make it a day ahead and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve it–for some reason, this dip seems to taste better when made ahead!

BLUE CHEESE DIP by NancyC

Makes about 1 2/3 cups (tastes best when made a day before serving)

  • 4 oz. finely crumbled blue cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) plain Greek yogurt or light sour cream (or 1/2 cup of each)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • Optional: salt and pepper to taste; you can also add in some garlic or onion powder too, if you like!

In medium size bowl, mix blue cheese crumbles with plain Greek yogurt or sour cream. Add in the lemon juice and mayonnaise, blending everything well. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Spoon mixture into serving bowl and serve or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve–it tastes best if you make it the day before serving it!

Serve with crackers, veggies, or chips. Also tastes great with spicy foods like Buffalo Chicken Wings!

So are you a fan of blue cheese too? Do you have a favorite blue cheese recipe?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday, Full Plate Thursday, Create It Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, Show and Share.

Nourishing Banana Face Cream

Nourishing Banana Face Cream @ NancyC

One of the things I love about this DIY face cream is that it’s so simple and easy–and has just 2 ingredients that just about everyone has on hand–a banana and some milk! I found 510skQgPAgL._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_this recipe in my review copy of The Complete Guide to Natural Homemade Beauty Products and Treatments (Robert Rose, softcover). This book includes 175 easy-to-follow recipes for a variety of skin and hair care items. And all the ingredients in these recipes are chemical-free, using natural ingredients like aromatic and medicinal plants, flowers, fruits, and essential oils. For example, there’s a Rejuvenating Bath recipe that includes dried sage, thyme, and eucalyptus leaves, along with patchouli and sandalwood essential oils. And a Lemon Hand Cream that’s made with shea butter, apricot kernel oil, castor oil, and lemon essential oil.

I decided to try the Nourishing Banana Cream for the face because it was such a simple recipe that we all could try without having to buy any special ingredients. This is actually more like a mask than a cream, because you just keep it on for 3 to 4 minutes. It really does make your skin feel nice and soft after you wash it off–it felt so refreshing, too! If your skin is dry, you’ll probably want to apply your regular moisturizer after you rinse this banana face cream off.

Here’s what the book says about bananas: Bananas are good for beauty, both inside and out. They contain a host of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, vitamins A, C, and E and potassium. So pamper your face and try this out when you get a chance!:)

NOURISHING BANANA CREAM from Natural Homemade Beauty Products and Treatments

Makes 1 application – works best for normal skin

  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • 3 Tablespoons milk

Slice banana. In a small bowl and using a fork, mash banana with milk to form a paste (I actually found it easier to mash by putting the ingredients in a baggie and mashing it with my hands)

Using fingers, spread banana mixture over face and neck. Let stand on skin for 3 to 4 minutes.

Rinse off banana mixture with lukewarm water. Gently pat face and neck dry with a towel.

Isn’t that easy? I used a medium-size banana and it made plenty of “cream” to apply; in fact, I had some extra. So I saved the rest and used it in a smoothie!

Have you made any DIY beauty products with simple, natural ingredients?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday, Show and Share, Full Plate Thursday, Create It Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things.

Banana Bread Granola

Banana Bread Granola @ NancyCI was needing to make some granola and I had also been thinking about making banana bread, so instead I made Banana Bread Granola. It was also handy that I had a bag of dried banana chips too, since those make a perfect add-in for this recipe! Just so you know, it’s very lightly sweet (unlike the granola  you buy at the store, which is too sweet for me). But you can make this Banana Bread Granola a little sweeter by adding some packed brown sugar, which I’ve noted in the recipe below. If you’re serving it with milk or yogurt for breakfast, you can also drizzle some honey on it, which tastes really good!

BANANA BREAD GRANOLA by NancyC

Makes about 7 1/2 cups

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • Optional: 2 Tablespoons flaxseed or wheat germ
  • 3/4 cup raw sunflower kernels
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans (or use a little of both)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 1/4 cup packed brown sugar (if you want your granola sweeter)
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil or canola oil
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 medium bananas or 1 medium) and 1 small)
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped banana chips (add these after the granola is done baking)

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line a large 13 x 18″ rimmed baking sheet or two 10 x 15″ rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In large bowl, mix the oats, flaxseed or wheat germ (if using), sunflower kernels, chopped nuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together until combined (also add the brown sugar, if using); set aside.

In medium bowl, mix the oil, honey, vanilla extract, and mashed bananas until well-blended. Pour over the oat mixture in large bowl; mix until everything is moistened and evenly coated.

Spread mixture evenly onto lined baking sheet and bake at 325˚F for 45 minutes total, stirring the granola every 15 minutes so mixture bakes evenly.

Remove from oven and let granola cool on baking sheet(s) for about 20 minutes (the granola will get crunchier as it cools). Transfer granola into a large bowl and stir in the banana chips.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Serve with yogurt, milk, or eat it plain as a healthy snack!

Since I started making homemade granola about 5 years ago, I rarely buy store-bought! It’s so easy to make your own, and it’s fun making it with different add-ins! Are you a granola-maker too?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday, Show and Share, Full Plate Thursday, Create It Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things.

Strawberry Fruit Dressing and Dip

Creamy Strawberry Fruit Dip @ NancyC

The weather feels very summery where I live, and when it’s warm outside, I tend to eat more fruit because it’s so refreshing. And when you serve fruit with a dressing or dip, it makes a great warm-weather dessert! This Strawberry Fruit Dressing and Dip is big on strawberry flavor and really good served with strawberries or a mix of fresh fruit chunks–pineapples, sliced bananas, apple wedges…whatever fruit you like.

I call this recipe a dressing and a dip because it’s thin enough to use as a creamy dressing, drizzled over your fruit, but you can also dip your fruit in it, if you don’t mind the thinner consistency. I think it’s best when you make it a day ahead and refrigerate it–it gets a little creamier the next day and thickens slightly more.

This recipe is really easy to make–just add all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and you’ll have a delicious strawberry dressing or dip to enjoy with your favorite fruit!

STRAWBERRY FRUIT DRESSING AND DIP by NancyC

Makes about 3 cups

  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 (8-ounce) package softened cream cheese, regular or light
  • 1 cup strawberries, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup strawberry jam, preserves, or fruit spread

Make your block of cream cheese extra soft by heating it in the microwave in a small microwave-safe bowl for 40 to 50 seconds. Then add all the ingredients together in a blender or food processor and blend well (the mixture is on the thick side initially, so you may have to help stir it along several times if using a blender).

Keep fruit dip refrigerated until ready to serve–it’s best if you can make it a day ahead and refrigerate it overnight. You can serve the dip in a small bowl with a large platter of fruit or serve the fruit and dip together in individual small bowls or cups. You can also serve the fruit on individual small plates with the dip drizzled over the fruit.

Note: You can substitute another kind of fruit and fruit jam for the strawberries–you could use blueberries with blueberry jam, pineapples with pineapple preserves, etc. Use whatever fruit you like best. You can use either fresh fruit or drained fruit from a can. I prefer using fresh fruit, but either works.

Do you have a favorite dressing or dip that you like to serve with fruit?

This recipe was featured on Meal Plan Monday.

Linked to Inspire Me Monday, Weekend Potluck, Meal Plan Monday, Show and Share, Create It Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things.