Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Reflections - What Are You Most Thankful For?

free thanksgiving photo: Happy Thanksgiving turkey2.jpg

 Thanksgiving - the name itself evokes images of warmth - extended family gathered around the fireplace enjoying each other's company, a juicy golden turkey ready to be carved, spicy apple pies, fluffy mashed potatoes, steaming hot gravy, and so much more.

We really have a lot to be thankful for. Not just on Thanksgiving, but throughout entire year. Sunny summer days, green grass, blue skies, dazzling sunsets, morning sunrises, fragrant roses, ocean shores, singing birds, soft purring kittens, playing children, thoughtful friends, nourishing food, warm homes - the list could go on forever. But do you know what I'm most thankful for? It's better than all that I've mentioned above. I'm most grateful that God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, who while we were yet sinners, died for us. So that we could be pardoned and given eternal, that we could know God's love, even though we don't deserve it.
Maybe you are thinking, "But I'm a good person, I deserve it." My heart cries for you because, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." (Proverbs 14:12) And "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9)  It is so easy to only see the good in ourselves, or not see the bad as truly bad. But the truth is: "ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) We are all desperately in need of God's mercy. (If you don't feel that way, you can take a little test here to see if you need God's mercy.)

Because God is a righteous judge, He does not leave the guilty unpunished. The Bible says, "Behold the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgement on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him." Scary isn't it? What is there that we we can do?

This is the good news: God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus. Jesus took all the punishment and guilt for our sins upon Himself, when He died on the cross. He paid the debt that we owed. "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." (1 Peter 3:18a) Just think about that for a second. Doesn't it move you to tears?

Maybe now you are starting to understand why this is what I'm most thankful for. I really hope you do. But do you know how you can receive eternal life and be reconciled to the God who created the universe and yet loves us so much that He gave His only Son for us? The Bible says to repent (turn from sin) and believe in Jesus. "He who believes in the Son [of God] has everlasting life." (John 3:36a) 

"Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God." (2 Corinthians 5:20) I implore you, dear reader, be reconciled to God, He has made a way - JESUS - who died on the cross and rose on the third day.

This is what I'm most grateful for. Are you?

With love,

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving-Style Brownies

I'm really excited about this Thanksgiving twist on brownies! Gooey chocolate, crunchy walnuts, and guess what? Dried cranberries! It makes a luscious treat for Thanksgiving or any time of the year!


1 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup flour (I use whole wheat)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dried cranberries

Optional Garnishes:
Fresh cranberries
Walnut halves
Chocolate chips
Whipped cream
Frosting (chocolate and/or white)

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
Step 2: Mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir in eggs.
Step 3: Add in salt, baking powder, cocoa, and flour. Mix well.
Step 4: Stir in chocolate chips, walnuts, and dried cranberries.
Step 5: Pour into greased baking dish. Bake for 27 minutes.
Step 6: Let cool. Before serving, garnish as desired. Enjoy!


P.S. I shared this on some of my favorite blog hops.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Easy Exotic Chicken (Video and Recipe)

We've been making this chicken a LOT recently - like around twice a week or something! I first made it because a couple of people in our family are going gluten-free and most soy sauces have wheat in them so I made this instead of soy-sauce chicken. We've been making it since! It is really great with rice and lentils. But we've also liked it with noodles, baked potatoes, baked potato wedges, and mashed potatoes. This takes me only around 5 minutes to put together and it really easy!
Although the spice list looks huge, it really isn't that complicated and you can skip a spice if you don't have it.

1/4 teaspoon each of cayenne pepper AND cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each of turmeric, garlic powder, black pepper, AND coriander
1 teaspoon each of parsley AND curry powder
1 tablespoon each of paprika AND cumin
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup olive oil
2-3 lbs of chicken (breasts, thighs, legs, or wings)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place chicken in a baking dish. Mix spices and salt in a bowl. Stir in olive oil. Pour over chicken. Bake for 60-75 minutes. Serve with rice and/or lentils. Enjoy! 

I often make this ahead of time and reheat it and the chicken only soaks up more of the flavor! So in other words: this is a great make-ahead dish. 


P.S. I linked this to some of these blog hops as well as a blog hop at Nourishing Joy

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Homemade Salad Bar Ideas (Video)

Start with some lettuce then let your imagination climb! 
We like to chop and shred vegetables ahead of time and keep them in little tupperware containers in the refrigerator. Then they are ready to just get out and instantly have a salad bar. Try to use the cut-up vegetables within a few days. 
Now for some ideas!

Chopped hardboiled eggs
Smoked salmon
Shredded cooked chicken or turkey
Shredded hard cheese (like fresh parmesan)
Feta cheese

Nice extras (I like to pick a couple of these):
Slivered almonds
Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds
Dried cranberries

Shredded Zucchini
Shredded Beets
Sliced cucumbers
Sliced radishes
Cauliflower florets
Broccoli florets
Chopped bell peppers
Chopped snap peas (or just leave them whole)
Diced tomatoes
Canned marinated artichokes 
Olives (not that they are a vegetable, but whatever)


Small orange sections
Thinly sliced apples
Sliced strawberries

Salad Dressings:

Ranch dressing
Italian dressing
Poppy seed dressing
Homemade salad dressings


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Five Minute Chocolate Brownie Frosting (Video)

This frosting is really easy to make and I usually make it without measuring the ingredients. (well I guess that goes for about anything when I'm not writing down the recipe) But anyways, it is really forgiving, if frostings need to be. It usually is finished in around a minute for me. But it will take longer the first time you make it, so I call it "Five Minute". Oh, I didn't mention that it doesn't use powdered sugar (confectioner's sugar).

Easy Brownie Frosting

You will need:
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
2 tablespoons water

Cream butter, sugar, and cocoa. Slowly beat in water until smooth. Spread on your brownies!


Nutmeg-Scented Sauteed Carrots (and video)

This is a great way to eat lots of carrots! They get eaten really up quickly around here.

Nutmeg-Scented Sauteed Carrots

8 washed carrots
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Cut carrots into matchstick-type pieces. Melt butter over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add carrots and saute for 10-15 minutes until tender, stirring very often. (carrots have natural sugar that burns easily) Turn off heat. Add salt, sugar, and nutmeg. Stir until thoroughly mixed, but don't break up the carrots. Serve warm. Serves 4.



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

New Cooking Video Channel!

One of my brothers who has a knack for video editing has encouraged me to start a cooking channel on YouTube. So..........I've decided to start one!

Please visit Homestead In The Hills Of Tennessee YouTube to check it out...and while you're at it - don't forget to subscribe!

What topics interest you most? In other words: what type of videos do you want me to spend my time on?

1. Breads
2. Vegetable Dishes
3. Main Dishes
4. Lunches
5. Desserts
6. Other

Place you answer in the comments!

Thank you!