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"O taste and see that the LORD is good." Psalms 34:8a

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Valentine's Cranberry Walnut Bread


Cooking is one of those everyday tasks I enjoy.  That is, I enjoy it when I'm not being bugged incessantly by my daughters.  Often, when that supper crunch time starts, and I start getting ingredients together, the whining, fussing, and fighting rises to a fever pitch.  At these times, in the back of my mind, I'm often musing that those cooking show competitions are for wimps.  They get to focus completely on their cooking!  What if they had to deal with a preschooler and a toddler at the same time, AND get supper on the table from start to finish in 45 minutes?

I love cooking for other people to enjoy.  It really wouldn't be worth the mess otherwise.  Our church's Ladies Fellowship luncheon this past Friday inspired me to finally try to recreate some delicious whole wheat cranberry walnut bread I had from Earth Fare a few months ago.
 I love my bread machine!  It makes homemade bread possible every week in our house!  I always use the dough cycle and then let the loaf rise for about 35-40 minutes.
 The egg wash made the top "golden brown and delicious."  
 Use a Valentine's cookie cutter for heart-shaped bread, 
add some yummy cranberry chicken salad... 
and voila!, finger sandwiches worthy of Valentine's Day!
 I guess it's hard to tell they're hearts in this picture.  Maybe next time I'll choose a single heart cutter.  This was the one I had closest to the size of the bread slices.

I returned home with an empty platter after the fellowship.  I hope you enjoy trying this as much as I did.

Cranberry Walnut Wheat Bread
(I used this recipe as my starting point: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/french-baguettes/detail.aspx)
1 1/4 c. water (I use filtered to avoid the chlorine)
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. bread flour
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/3 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
1 1/2 tsp. quick rising yeast

1 egg

1. Place all ingredients except for egg in bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer.  Set to dough cycle and push start.
2. When dough cycle finishes, shape dough into a loaf on floured counter, and place into a  lightly greased loaf pan.  Cover, and let rise in a warm place for 35 minutes.
3. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Whisk egg, then brush over the top of the loaf.  Bake for 24 minutes or until loaf is golden brown.

Cranberry Chicken Salad
2 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, shredded or chopped
(I used seasoning salt & onion powder on mine before baking for about 45 minutes)
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/3 c. dried cranberries
1 1/4 c. mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients and chill for at least 1 hour for flavors to combine.  Enjoy on Cranberry Walnut Wheat Bread!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Soaking in the Sun


 Just lying in the grass, soaking in the sun.  
If only we all would take time to enjoy the simple things.
 Picking grass together.
 "Mommy, look at the honey bee!"
"Take a picture of my flower."
"I'm sleeping"

We enjoyed a warm spring-like day on Friday.  
I'm glad being a Mom makes me take time to stop what I'm doing indoors and enjoy going outside.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Hello!

There are two types of dinnerware:  everyday china and fine china.  Fine china is more expensive and typically requires a lot more TLC than the everyday stuff.  Everyday china, on the other hand, is tougher, easier to care for, and less pricey.  Although most of us only see our fine china a few times a year, if we're lucky, we enjoy our everyday china all the time.  It often gets banged around, dropped on the floor, thrown into the microwave, crusted with leftovers, and shoved hastily into the dishwasher.  We take it for granted, yet we couldn't do without it.


Since becoming an ordinary Mommy in 2007, I've gotten beat up by the everyday; things like diapers, mincing food into tiny pieces, wiping up spills, repeating myself a million times....Many stay-at-home Moms experience the same frustration and monotony of focus.  Things to which we never even payed attention before we had children now take center stage as our day-long battles; and, before we know it, we find our minds and emotions stuck there, in the bathroom with our potty-training toddler.


Lately, I've felt the Lord urging me to purposefully step outside the everyday battles and notice the extraordinary in the everyday things, the daily miracles I overlook because the mundane frustrations of existence are shouting so loudly in my face.  Yes, life is mundane, messy, and often painful, but little joys wait silently in the background of everyday.  Lord, help me to notice them and rejoice in Your daily care for me!  Thank you, Lord, for life's "everyday china."  Psalms 34:8 "O taste and see that the Lord is good!"