Are you all enjoying this beautiful fall weather? I can’t help but pull out my iPod whenever I am out and about and spot a beautiful autumn scene.
When your weeks are the busiest, I’m telling you, it’s important to notice the little things of beauty all around you. God is such an amazing Creator and His beautiful creation is a feast for the eyes and a reminder of His watch care in the smallest details of life.
I did a lot of entertaining this week, and a lot of cooking. Several of you asked me to share some of the recipes and menus I use. Here you go.
First of all, I decorated with fall leaves and hydrangea from my yard. I added some bittersweet, sticks, and leaves and viola…free, fall-y centerpiece.
To feed a large crowd, 20 or so, I use this menu:
Ham Dinner Menu
Spiral Ham– I love Aldi’s spiral ham. They’re inexpensive (as spiral hams go) and delicious.
Homemade Mac and Cheese. I used Pioneer Woman’s recipe, minus the eggs. I also added a can of Campbell’s cheese soup, a brick of cream cheese, and some milk. I made it up about two hours from the event and kept it warm in a greased crock pot set on low. It was cheesy and delish.
Fried Apples- You could just serve warm applesauce and cinnamon, but this recipe is over the top. It’s my friend Susanna’s recipe and I always get compliments on it.
Combine in a saucepan and heat until dissolved:
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg.
Core and peel 8 large apples, slice into eighths, and add to syrup. Cook 15-20 minutes on medium heat until apples are cooked through and syrup is slightly thickened and bubbly. Add 1 T butter.
Remove small amount (1/2 cup) syrup and dissolve 1T cornstarch into it. Add to apple mixture and simmer in pan until the syrup thickens and has a glossy look.
*I add more apples and you can play with the spices until you get it how you like it.
**If I have unexpected company, sometimes I just heat a large jar of applesauce, throw some peeled, sliced apples into it, let them simmer until softened, add spices, serve warm and call it a day.
***Leftover, this is great on ice cream or as a pancake topping.
Green Beans– I get French cut green beans at Aldis for $.49 a can. I heat with butter and garlic salt.
Cranberry sauce and rolls. Ocean Spray. Just saying. Right now there is a coupon for $1 off a bag of Ocean Spray fresh cranberries, and Walmart has fresh fruit for $1.50 this week! (Coupons.com also has a dollar off Hershey’s chocolate, Kit Kat, Reese’s Peanut Butter cups… which can be squirreled away for Christmas stockings.)
Lunch usually means that moms and kids are coming. I usually try to make sure I have something “kid friendly” and something yummy for the moms.
My go to recipe is a quiche. My recipe is really simple and flexible.
Frozen or homemade pie shell, unbaked.
1 brick grated extra sharp cheese, thrown into the bottom of the shell
1 1/2 cups “filling”–anything you want, thrown on the cheese. My favorite variations:
- cubed ham, scallions, pepper,
- bacon (I’ve used real bacon bits before with good results), pepper, onion
- asparagus (roasted), red pepper, onions
Then carefully pour into the pie crust:
5 eggs beaten with 1 cup of half and half.
Bake 400 for 45 min or until edges are browned and middle it set.
My favorite salad is a pear, cranberry, blue cheese, candied pecan salad.
I use spring greens, slice up a pear, throw on the pecans, a handful of Craisins, and add some chopped scallions to the mix. I put the blue cheese on the side because not everyone likes it. The dressing makes is what makes this salad to die for, and it’s super easy.
Sweet Balsamic Vinegar Italian Dressing
1 pkg Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix
1/8 c. good balsamic vinegar
1/8 c. white vinegar
2 T. sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Mix well until incorporated and pour over salad at the last minute.
*You can really use whatever you want in the salad: apples, strawberries, mandarin oranges. It’s all good.
On My Nightstand:
I’m making my way through these books right now, but life has been busy so extra reading is at a minimum.
I received A Lifelong Love: What If Marriage Is about More Than Just Staying Together? in the mail two days ago from Cook Publishers and I have to tell you, it’s fabulous. This was a new author for me, but it’s been such a great appeal to love your spouse, that I think Peter and I might try to read this book as a couple. Put this one on your wish list.
Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds is a must read. I plan to go through the “how to” principles in this book with my youth group girls. Studying the Bible is more than reading a passage and then consulting commentaries. It’s a slow, steady, lifestyle. I’m encouraged that a younger generation of women are increasingly relying on the Word of God, instead of the second hand studies of men via commentaries, blogs, books and sermons…which are all very helpful, but cannot replace careful BIBLE study.
When the Kara Tippett’s husband contacted me about reviewing her book, The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard
I have to tell you, I was so impressed by this guy’s letter, and his obvious care for his wife and her story, that I agreed. Kara is fighting stage IV cancer, and this is her story of letting go of her “idol” image of what life is supposed to look like. “Hard is not the absence of God’s goodness.” I will review it in more depth later on this month.
The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness is a book that Rebekah had to read for leadership training at her college. I have to admit, I had a hard time getting into this one. I keep thinking…how could churches have missed this stuff? This has been basic to our teaching since childhood, so I guess we’ve been blessed. It’s like growing up in a cooking school, and having an expert cooking instructor write …”Did you guys realize that you have to bake all this stuff? We need to turn on our ovens.” Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it was just my mood. There you have it. It’s a great read for new believers, for sure, but I would recommend The Pursuit of Holiness
What have you been reading? Have a great weekend!