Monday, March 20, 2017


2016 was a year for the books.  I'm not entirely sure which books, or where to place it, but it was definitely noteworthy.
In 2016 I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
In 2016 my husband ran for office.
In 2016 our daughter's life was spared, in not one, but TWO car wrecks.
In 2016 our son's car finally gave out.
In 2016 our sweet cat, Monster-Mash, died of a heart attack.
In 2016 our family faced great heartbreak in more than one relationship.

On the other side of the coin...
In 2016 I fought breast cancer and won.
In 2016 my husband won, not one, but THREE elections, making him our county's next Court Clerk.
In 2016 our daughter's life was spared and God generously replaced all of the cars we lost.
In 2016 our family learned about forgiveness, love, difficult decisions and how to move forward while hurting.

So, perhaps you see my dilemma...what book could possibly hold all of this, and what title would I give it?
The year we survived?
We did much more than merely survive.
We held onto the mighty warrior that is our God, and allowed Him to guide us through the storm, the desert and the valley...all at once.

We learned that He is faithful.
We learned that we are weak.
We learned that with Him all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)

And, we learned that life will happen when you are ready for it.  Life will happen when you are not. Life has an agenda that may or may not be in line with yours.
Better to go with God...than without.
Only He knows what lies ahead...

Thursday, December 15, 2016

In looking for Peace....

First there is this:
On this earth we often find ourselves searching for happiness.  We hunt down peace like it is a treasure, worth all we have to obtain.
We shell out large quantities of money to buy it.
We sell what we own to obtain it.       
We give away what we once valued to get it.
And, we trade-in what we once treasured to feel it again.

Until it no longer sustains our temporary joy.  And the quest begins anew.
Interestingly enough, Peace is not a thing, or a concept, but a Person.  Jesus.
He was given to us as a gift over 2000 years ago, and He is the only gift that has ever been given yet remained throughout time.  Generations are born and die, but He remains.  Lives are lived and lost, yet still He is.  People will come, and they will go, but Jesus is the gift that never ends, never dies, and never fails.
For those who understand this concept, and have found themselves face to face with the truth of who He is….for those individuals, peace becomes Peace….a person who walks with them through this brief journey on the earth, and delivers them safely to the other side.
You see, each of us will know pain.  Each of us will know joy.  Each of us will be given gifts, learn new concepts, share in laughter and in tears.  Each of us will make our contribution to our generation and society, and some of us may even make contributions that go on without us.
But, only those who have met Peace, and made Him their LORD & Savior, will experience each of these aforementioned things with the steady contentment of knowing… 
that regardless of the ups, and despite the downs…He is their constant.  
Earth is their temporary. 
And Heaven with Him is their FOREVER.
If you do not know Him this season…in this time of year when we sing “peace on earth, and goodwill to men”, then take it from one who has lived both with Him, and without Him…..
It is sublimely better WITH Him.
Get to know Jesus.  He makes the journey worth it.

(Ephesians 2:14-18 and John 3:16 )

Friday, April 1, 2016

Triple Chocolate Brownies

When it is time for chocolate, no substitute will do.

So, today we will talk about the MOST chocolate brownie I have ever made, tasted, or offered to loved ones.

The Pioneer Woman's Dark Chocolate Brownies are my go to for that nothing-but-chocolate-will-do craving, and I only made a couple very mild changes.  
However, I think you will agree that the changes didn't hurt one bit, and that these brownies  definitely have the ability to enhance your life experience.

So, let's get started on "My version of the Pioneer Woman's Dark Chocolate Brownies".

First things first... go forth and gather the following ingredients:

1 cup Butter
4 oz, weight Unsweetened Chocolate 
1/4 (plus a Tbsp more) Unsweetened Cocoa
2 cups Sugar
1 Tbsp Vanilla
1 tsp Instant Coffee Granules
3 Large Eggs
1-1/4 cups Flour
3/4 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Powdered sugar for sifting

To begin, add butter & the Unsweetened Chocolate Bar to a medium saucepan.
Over low heat, whisk occasionally until chocolate is melted.

Once chocolate and butter have happily become one, it is time to add the second layer of chocolate goodness.
Cocoa powder will add that deeper, darker chocolate flavor we are looking for, so throw in 1/4 cup plus about a Tbsp more.

Whisk the cocoa powder into the mix until smooth.
Add the teaspoon of instant coffee granules (NOTE: a touch of instant coffee really enhances chocolate dishes, without changing the flavor.  It isn't a bad idea to keep some around for the next time you are whipping up a batch of any or all things chocolate.)

Whisk the instant coffee into the mixture until smooth, then remove from heat and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.

Once the chocolate mixture is slightly cooled, add the sugar.  The sugar will help to further cool the chocolate.

Wait to stir until we have added the vanilla. Omgosh, vanilla.  How I love thee.
Sorry.  Food thrills me.
Especially when I get to combine food with my really cool Mickey whisk, and my bright & shiny bird measuring spoons.
Hellloooo, happiness.
Moving onward.  Vanilla.  Throw it in there.

Stir until just barely combined.  No need to get all stir-happy up in there.  Brownies don't like to be messed with too much.

Now that the sugar and vanilla have helped to lower the temperature of the chocolate, you can safely add the eggs without accidentally cooking them.

If you want to do more than one egg at a time, just be sure to break up each egg individually before you begin whisking them into the mix.

Once the eggs have been mixed in, it is time for the flour.

Stir it until it is just barely incorporated and then throw in the third chocolate layer: the semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Stir to combine.

Still don't want to get all stir-happy....keeping in mind, brownies are sensitive.

Once you have them pretty much combined, add them to your well-greased 9x13....

Smooth out the mixture with a spatula.
Place in oven set to 350 F, and allow to bake for 30-40 minutes while you wait... with or without patience.  It makes no difference to me.
I usually go for the "without patience" approach, but it can get kinda weird around here with me talking to the oven about how I really need my fix.
Probably best to not be like me, and just go with the whole "patient" approach.
Watch Netflix or something.

Once the brownies have baked and are slightly springy to the touch, allow to cool in pan for what will seem like forever.  Basically, you just want them WAY cooled completely cooled down.

I didn't want to tell you that, because I know it makes it more difficult, but we really are going for completely cooled here, people.  
Completely cooled allows you to dump the brownies out onto a cutting board, so that you can do this.

Cut them into the sweetest, smallest squares of dark chocolate happiness, and sift powdered sugar over them until the angels sing.

At which point, people in your house will hear the singing and come to investigate.
And they will do this to your brownie stash.

But, not before you have reserved some to pile on a plate.

Or set some larger pieces aside to heat and serve with vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce.

It is all about having options.  Options are where it's at.

So, until we cook again....


Click HERE for printable.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Tomato Sauce Pork & Veggies

If you like pork.
And you love tomatoes.
Then come with me.
I have something to show you.  Something that will very likely change your life forver, and at the very least, greatly improve your week.

It doesn't really have a name, other than pork and tomato sauce wonderfulness.
With veggies.

Give it a chance, and thank me later.

You will need the following ingredients:

2 Tbsp EVOO
1-2 Tbsp Butter
1/4 tsp Sriracha
1/2 tsp Soy sauce
1/4 - 1/2 cup Lemon juice
1 Tbsp Brown sugar
2 tsp Cumin
1-2 tsp Chili powder
2 Tbsp Cornmeal
2 cups Tomato Sauce
1 cup Unsalted chicken stock
1 lb Carrots
1 bunch Celery
1 large Onion
1 bunch Parsley
1 bunch Cilantro
1/2 cup of Half & Half
Cooked & buttered Extra Wide egg noodles

Let's start with some CHOPPING.  Chopping is just plain good for the soul, and cheaper than a therapist.  So, let's chop, shall we?

Chop the following:

Celery (medium sized chunks)
Onion (same as celery)
Carrots (medium sized discs)
Parsley (rough chop)
Cilantro (rough chop)

Now, set those glorious veggies aside and be ready to use them at a moment's notice.

Time for the SEARING:

I love to use the same ingredients for most of my searing, so if you have read very many of my main dish recipes, you are bound to be accustomed to this special searing blend......
In a large skillet, on medium-high heat, add the following:
EVOO, butter, 1 Tbsp Salt, 1 Tbsp Pepper, Sriracha, & Soy sauce.

Allow butter to melt, and roll the pan around a bit in order to get all the flavors blended.

Place pork in pan and sear each side for about a minute.

I like to salt and pepper the face up side while the first side is searing.
And throw a little lemon juice in there...mmmmmmmm.

After about a minute, flip the chops and sear the other side.

Once both sides have seared for about a minute each, remove them to a plate so that you can set to work at searing the veggies.

I like to start with the carrots because they won't accidentally cook through in a minute or two.
Get them slightly browned in whatever juices you still have left in the pan, OR throw in a little more EVOO/butter if your pan has gone dry.

Once a little bit of searing has happened (approximately 2 or 3 minutes), throw in a little white wine to de-glaze the pan a bit.

And let them simmer for another 2-3 minutes.

Omgosh.  This is so beautiful.  Are you happy yet??


Next we throw in the celery & onions.

And after a few more minutes of searing, it is time to add the chicken stock (keeping in mind that for this recipe, SEARING is nothing more than getting a little color & flavor to release from the veggies - so don't panic if you don't see searing marks on your veggies.  All is well.)

Back to the chicken stock.
Time to add it (approximately 1/4 - 1/2 cup)....

Lid the pan.

Turn the heat down to medium, and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.

Smell that.

Ok, let's add the chops back into the mix.

Be sure to get all those plate juices in there.
Add about 1/2 cup of Unsalted Chicken Stock, 2 cups tomato sauce, and a Tbsp each of Salt & Pepper.

Lid the pan, and allow to simmer at a medium heat (turning occassionally) until pork is cooked to an internal temperature of 145 - 160.
Plate the pork.

Time to finish the sauce.
This is the best part, friends, because...seriously...This is the most amazing sauce!
It is a combination of salty & sweet, as well as spicy with a hint of cornmeal.
I know.
Just trust me, please.

You won't regret it.

By the way, sorry for all the weird hand photos below.
Just trying to show you how much of each.
From top left, and moving clock-wise, add the following:
1-2 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp cumin
2 Tbsp cornmeal

Stir to combine, and add half a cup of half & half.

Stir well & allow to heat through.
Add the chops back into the mix, and toss in the chopped parsley & cilantro.

Stir gently.

Plate on a bed of hot-buttered Extra Wide Egg noodles.

And serve to happy people.

Until we cook again!


Click HERE for printable.