Saturday, March 11, 2017

Snow On The Forsythias

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it."

Isaiah 55:8-11

I woke up this morning to snow on the forsythias.

A beautiful falling of it as I write!

This, my friends, is our first real snow to see of the season!  March 11th-the day before Daylight Savings-- and we finally are getting a beautiful snow.

I love snow, and I've been hoping for months to wake up to a blanket.  Christmas came and went without so much as cold weather, January...nothing. February (usually our coldest month) was warm!  Week after week would go by without any of the wintry precipitation, so I thought maybe next winter.

Of course, I usually think of snow before the flowers begin to bloom. 

But there is something about this snow this morning that reminds me of the character of God....

God's timing is always perfect. 

He is never late.

Are you praying for something? 

Trusting in the Lord completely or even desperately? 

Crying out to Him in your time of need? 

Just when the bloom is about to burst open and you might think, "That season must be past. It's too late now."  the Lord may surprise you with His sovereign hand and turn things around.  He sees and knows all, and most of the time His answer will come when He will get the most glory and when it's the very best for us.  

That's such a good place to rest in!

Hope against all hope!!!  (Hope in the Lord, only. Not in your own strength.)

I've seen God move in my own life before after some may have given up or think it's too late, it wasn't.... He waited for the perfect time. 

So press in!  Press into seeking Him more than seeking your answer!

So with my dark roast coffee in hand, instrumental music on in the house, fireplace roaring, and this whole Saturday looking more like a beautiful snow globe than I had imagined I'm enjoying every moment.  Yes, I miss the 75 degree days, but this may have been the forced day of "rest" we needed amongst a winter bleak of snow days and before the busyness spring can bring! 

I think I'm about to make some pancakes and hot chocolate for the kids since it's a special day.

It's a snow day and although it's on the golden forsythias, in my heart it's right on time!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Classic Banana Muffins

Last weekend was one of those gloriously relaxed weekends! 

My husband was home and off work the entire Saturday and Sunday ( woowhooo!!!) which happens about one weekend a month.  It's just so nice to spend mornings together.  We could sleep a little later and linger a little longer around our coffee and around the table.  I thought I would take advantage of the small bunch of very ripe bananas I had and made a delicious breakfast treat for my family!  I knew our kids would love some fresh, warm muffins to go along with the eggs I made--(eggs are our kiddo's favorite!). 

This time I loaded the scrambled eggs with some leftover roasted and seasoned potatoes from the night before, sauteed bell peppers, and onion along with salt, pepper, and paprika. If I wanted to splurge I would also add a handful of cheese at the last minute, but instead we doused the eggs with our favorite hot sauce, Cholula. We love this Mexican style hot sauce with eggs for breakfast.  Smoky, a slight heat, and tangy... perfect for flavor without extra calories and fat. 

The deliciously tender and flavorful muffins were the perfect nod to sweetness to balance out the savory eggs. A fresh mug of steamy dark roast coffee made this a breakfast that stuck with us throughout the entire morning! 

I'm sure you've made banana muffins or bread before, and I have made them from a dozen different recipes-- several which are on my blog here-- but these were a classic recipe and simple and easy.  They came out perfectly!  I will certainly make this recipe again, and that's pretty much the qualification of sharing a recipe with you. If we love the food and will want it again, I want to let you all in on it, too!

Now the question for this crazy Kentucky weather-weekend is what am I going to make on the potential snow day we are supposed to randomly get tomorrow!?  Yesterday the high was 75 degrees and tomorrow is going to be in the 30's!  Potato soup, perhaps?? 

What do you all enjoy cooking up on snow days? I would LOVE to get some good ideas!

Classic Banana Muffins

Adapted from: My Mommy Style

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 large ripe bananas (I used 4 medium)
3/4 c. white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. butter melted (I used melted coconut oil. Delicious.)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat muffin pans with non stick baking spray or use paper liners.
  • Sift together the flour, and next 4 ingredients; set aside.
  • Combine bananas, sugar and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl.  Fold in flour mixture, and mix until dry ingredients are combined.  Do not over mix. Scoop about 1/4 cup of batter in each muffin tin.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped.

Note:  I made the addition of cinnamon to this recipe. I really love it in banana muffins. Also I decided for health reasons to substitute butter with coconut oil.  The consistency is very similar and doesn't change the flavor, but it's better for our heart. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Birthday Celebration with *Best Loved* Strawberry Cake Recipe

Happy 6th birthday to our beautiful, fun, creative "gift from God" daughter!!!  Last week we celebrated our baby girl's birthday and what a blessing she is, and I just had to hop back on here to let you all in on her sweet and simple celebration....

Last week was also a very busy week!  I worked a full schedule as secretary at our church along with a couple extra special school activities through the week nights while my husband worked extra long hours the prior weekend and week due to all the sickness the winter tends to bring.  His busyness at work is a blessing, no doubt, but also can leave us feeling like ships passing in the night sometimes.  I know we aren't the only couple to experience this.

I really didn't have much time to prepare for the party at all (and almost completely forgot to about the little party for her at school altogether!) but God helped me make it all happen by His grace. I think there is something about being a mom that really forces you to sort of will yourself to do and accomplish things that sometimes you really have no idea looking back how you pulled it off. How you had the time, energy, or creativity.  How you created all the smiles to warm your kid's heart while on the inside you are just tired.  Nothing is wrong, just weariness.

But that's when I think of my family.  The long-term vision of memories.  The love I want our children to remember and  it's from that place of unselfishness and consideration...  God strengthens me! 

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Phil. 4:13

That's been my struggle lately but thanking the Lord it didn't ruin being able to celebrate one of my favorite people turning 6!  I decided to major on the majors and not worry about what doesn't really matter.  It paid off.

Sweet girl requested a pink cake and got a homemade strawberry cake with strawberry frosting and crowned with fresh strawberries...sweet and girly! It was a treat to make. I don't usually bake cakes, especially layered cakes, unless it's a birthday.  Even though I've been busy, I really wanted to make her cake this year instead buying from our favorite bakery like I did last year.  I'm sure that will happen again, but I was in a baking kind of mood...Maybe it was the warmer weather?  Either way, this cake was a fun one to make for our fun girl! 

Without fail, every year I find our sweet girl at her birthday cake before the party licking the icing. I used to be worried she would mess up the look of it, but it's happened for years, and I think at this point I would be almost disappointed if she didn't do it!  There is something innocent and joyful about taking your finger and running it through frosting that looks too delicious to just look at!  

No inhibitions. That's my girl!

The celebration was intimate with only close family, but those are some of my personal favorite parties that I had growing up! 

I made a big spaghetti supper with our favorite homemade meat sauce full of Italian sausage and good ground beef that slow cooks most of the day!  We ate it with semi-homemade cheesy garlic bread and Italian salad.  We ate dinner on our farm table and the cake and ice cream was consumed at the kitchen table after opening gifts. 

The kitchen was decorated in girly polka dots, butterflies, unicorns, and whimsy! Nothing expensive or elaborate this year, not because she doesn't deserve the best, but sometimes the best looks more simple and homemade.  It certainly allowed mommy to be able to give her best when it was all said and done.

And if these sweet little decorations wouldn't brighten one's day, I don't know what would!  Chocolates sitting around in abundance after Valentines Day made for a great treat to nibble on with coffee as the celebration started. 

And this cake. I'm thinking, why have I never shared this recipe???  It is tried and true and many years old. This has been a family favorite Nana (my husband's grandmother) has made for years, and it dates back to the true cake baking era.  The simpler time when inviting "company" over meant including a cake baked in your own oven, and when time seemed to move a little slower. Well, after eating this several times that Nana made for gathering, Mom and I decided to start making it probably about 10 years ago. 

While it is essentially a foolproof cake, the icing for me always ends up being drippy and wants to make the cake layers slide a bit.  I'm no expert, but I have used wooden skewers to hold it in place while it gets popped into the fridge. There the icing begins to harden back up from all the butter in it, and the cake seems to get even more moist somehow after sitting in the fridge, so I make this cake the day before.

You can't beat the flavor of this tender cake, chock full of strawberries and the strawberry icing that is creamy and divine!  The icing's original recipe only has butter but over the past few years Nana has began to add some cream cheese to it and so have we. It's between a buttercream and cream cheese icing. The only revision I made to her recipe is adding a splash of vanilla extract to both the cake batter and the icing.  It just gives it an extra, something.

I'm genuinely so excited to share this recipe with you!  Hopefully it can become a new tradition for your own family and friends to enjoy.  It's hard to make this cake with out a little spoon licking and a lot of love! Enjoy the process and the fruit of your labor.  I know watching our sweet girl eat it was worth every minute!

Best Loved Strawberry Cake with Strawberry Butter Icing

The Cake:

1 box white cake mix
1 pkg. strawberry jello
4 extra large eggs
3/4 c. canola oil
1/2 c. water
splash (about 1 tsp.) vanilla
1/2 c. frozen (sweetened) strawberries, thawed--comes in a little tub

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour (I use Pam baking spray) 3 - 8 inch round cake pans.
  • Mix ingredients all together very well (using a mixer) and beat on high until well blended and airy.  Divide the batter between the pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when tested.
  • Allow the cakes to sit for about 10 minutes before gently going around the sides with a knife and then turning the cakes out onto a cooking rack or parchment/wax paper to cool completely.
  • For a layered cake, the cakes must be completely cooled before frosting.  Once cooled put the first cake on the stand and ice  the top completely.  I feel as though it always needs a little more icing between the layers.  Put the next cake layer on and repeat.  Once the third cake is on, I would work quickly as the layers may want to slide. Pour the icing over the top and smooth it all over.  Put the cake in the fridge until it's time to eat.
  • I don't worry about precision here too much with the icing.  This isn't an icing that would be suitable for a pastry bag design, but it's beautiful in it's own way and delicious! I added a bunch of fresh strawberries to around the base of the cake just before presenting to everyone. 

The Icing:

1 stick of real butter, softened
1/2-3/4 block cream cheese
3/4c.frozen (sweetened) strawberries, thawed crushed and lightly strained
1/2 tsp. vanilla
4-5 c. powdered sugar

Beat the butter, cream cheese and vanilla together until smooth.  Lower the speed of your mixer and alternately add the crushed strawberries and sugar, ending with the sugar. You may add more of with strawberries or powdered sugar depending on your taste of sweetness and the consistency you desire.

Note: Fresh strawberries do not work well in this cake.  They tend to make the cake fall apart, but these sweetened frozen ones are just perfect! Be sure to thaw the container before beginning to bake this though. I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!