Focusing on Truth

When I saw this quote from a new book coming out soon (see shereadstruthbook.com), the words truth and eternal stood out to me.

14068222_729277720770_1284248530050769763_n

Truth and eternal. These two words helped me get through a very difficult time I experienced earlier this summer. A few posts ago, I shared with you that my mom had died. Losing someone close to you totally changes your world. There’s an emptiness you feel when they’re gone. A friend told me, “It’s never easy and we are never ready.”

The day after mom died, I was feeling this emptiness. And cutting through all the swirling emotions in my mind, the Lord spoke, telling me to focus on the truth of the situation. “Focus on what is true,” He said softly. “The truth Is your mother is alive and in heaven.” It was a gentle reminder of what I already knew to be true–a reminder of what John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Although I miss mom, I know our separation is temporaryand I’m happy for her, knowing she is very much alive in her eternal heavenly home.

Knowing and focusing on Truth makes all the difference.

 

Blueberry Zucchini Muffins

ncBlueberryZucchiniMufsnmI don’t have a veggie garden of my own this summer, but friends and coworkers have been so nice to share from their gardens with me! That’s how I ended up with some zucchini. Since I also had fresh blueberries just waiting to be used, I decided to make these muffins that I first made several years ago. The zucchini and blueberries make these muffins really moist and the cinnamon gives them a great flavor. If you like, you can top the muffins with a homemade cream cheese frosting and fresh blueberries (you can use fresh or frozen blueberries in the batter). You can also try substituting blackberries, raspberries, or chopped strawberries for the blueberries.

BLUEBERRY ZUCCHINI MUFFINS by NancyC

Makes 24 to 25 regular-size muffins or 12 to 13 jumbo muffins

  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup light olive oil or non-GMO canola oil
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two 12-cup regular muffin pans or two 6-cup jumbo muffin pans with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar. Fold in the zucchini.

In large bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.

Add the egg mixture from the medium bowl to the flour mixture in the large bowl; stir all ingredients together until moistened. Gently stir the blueberries into the batter.

Spoon batter into the muffin cups, about 3/4 full. Bake regular muffins for 22-24 minutes and jumbo muffins for 32-34 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean (if using frozen berries, your baking time may be a few minutes longer).

If you want to get a little fancy, you can top these muffins with some cream cheese frosting and garnish with a few fresh blueberries. Here’s a frosting recipe I’ve used with these muffins before:

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 1 8-oz. block of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • fresh blueberries for garnish

In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese and butter together, then add the powdered sugar a cup at a time. Blend well. Using a rounded scoop about the size of a tablespoon, put a dollop of cream cheese frosting on the center of each muffin. You should have enough frosting to put big dollops on if you want to. Then add some fresh blueberries to the top of each muffin.

That’s pretty easy, isn’t it? If you’re not going to eat these until later, store in a covered container in the refrigerator to keep the blueberries fresh. This recipe is a great way to use your garden zucchini! Are you growing zucchini this summer?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck.

Ricotta Pound Cake

Ricotta Pound Cake II @ NancyCHello there, friends! Thanks so much for your thoughts and prayers these past few months–your comments on my last post were so thoughtful and encouraging. I have spent a lot of time resting and recharging during this time and it was just what I needed. I’m doing much better now. So I’m back from my blogging break with a pound cake recipe to share!

I don’t use ricotta cheese very often, but I did use it for something recently and I had some extra ricotta in my fridge. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but then I came across a recipe for Ricotta Pound Cake at Epicurious. It sounded like the perfect thing to try! I made a few small changes to the recipe and thought it tasted really good. A few things to note: The top of the loaf browns a little, and the sides of the loaf brown a lot–but the dusting of powdered sugar covers the top and the deliciousness of the slightly crispy edges are a nice contrast to the moist, buttery texture and flavor of the inside. And thankfully, the dark edges do not have a burnt taste like I thought they would. I fully expected them to, and it’s a mystery to me why the edges don’t taste burnt. My loaf also sank just very slightly in the middle–maybe because I had taken it out of the oven a little too early and put it back in–but that little indention was the perfect place to add in a few strawberries!

RICOTTA POUND CAKE by NancyC, adapted from Epicurious

Makes one 9″ loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk or part skim ricotta cheese (drain any excess liquid)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for dusting on top
  • Optional: fresh strawberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour a 9″ loaf pan.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter, ricotta, and sugar until smooth. Beat eggs in one at a time, then blend in the vanilla extract.

Add the flour mixture to the butter/ricotta mixture, blending everything well.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, smoothing evenly with a spatula.

Gently whack the pan on the counter to remove air pockets. Bake at 350˚F for 46 to 50 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (you shouldn’t have to bake it more than 50 minutes). Cool in loaf pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate and let cake cool completely. When cooled, dust top of loaf with powdered sugar and add some strawberries in the center of the loaf, if desired.

Ricotta Pound Cake @ NancyCIf I hadn’t had that extra ricotta in my fridge, I may never have tried making this pound cake! I’m so glad I did–I love the rich buttery flavor and how the ricotta makes the cake so good and moist. Do you use ricotta in any of your dessert recipes?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck, Meal Plan Monday.

Catching Up

2a2a21646a097e02d57b3cd6a7f68acc

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

Colossians3.12_White_Download1(pp_w294_h432)

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.