Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

I just love these cookies - not only do they taste wonderful but my recipe uses up 3 cups of shredded zucchini!  Last year's zucchini yield was terrible but this year we have more than made up for last year's loss.

This recipe is available in my ebook:

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Prodigal Son Parable - The Son Who Stayed Home

"Meanwhile, the older son was in the field.  When he came near the house he heard music & dancing.  So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.  'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'  The older brother became angry and refused to go in.  So his father went out and pleaded with him.  But he answered his father, 'Look!  All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.  Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home , you kill the fattened calf for him!'  'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me and everything I have is yours.  But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again;  he was lost and is found.' "  Luke 15:25-32

I am more like the older son in this parable - not just because I am the oldest child but also because I have lived a conservative, loyal life and (I have to admit) I am more like the oldest son in the negative ways also.  Let's look at these verses a little closer:  What is the first response that the older son had when he found out about the party for his brother?  It was jealousy......and again I'm being honest but I think I would have responded in the exact same way.  It wasn't just a basic celebration - it was a party to end all parties, making that jealousy even stronger. 

The next response that the older brother had was anger.  Again, I think that would have been my next response but I hope I differ from this older brother in that I think I would have gone into the party in the end.  Not only did this brother refuse to accept his brother's return: this brother also pouted and refused to go into the party!! - What a big baby! 

I'm not sure if this is a typical trait of the "oldest child syndrome" but as a child I always made sure that everything was even.  Just like this brother saying:  "You never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends" (here's where the sad violin starts playing) - The "poor me" attitude.  In actuality this older brother had been so blessed and protected for his entire life.   I would never want to go through what the younger brother went through.

It all boils down to forgiveness.  The older brother has to forgive & forget what his younger brother did and then be thankful that he still has a brother to love and cherish.  The father had forgiven the younger brother even before he came home.

Let us not compare ourselves to each other - we are all different.  Let's forgive and be thankful.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Strawberries'n Cream Popsicles

 Strawberries'n Cream Popsicles

I created this recipe because my husband always complains when I make my Peppermint Patty Pudding Pops  - ( he does not love chocolate like I do).  So, I came up with this flavor combination: Strawberries & Vanilla Cream.  I used sour cream because I like the tart taste that it adds to the already tart strawberries but you may substitute Greek yogurt if you prefer.

2 packages of Knox Gelatin (the box shown above had many packages inside - I am talking about the small paper packages - NOT 2 boxes).
2 cups of milk
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 small container of sour cream (2 cups)
1/2 cup water
1 cup pureed strawberries (before pureeing fresh strawberries - wash, drain & hull)(if using frozen strawberries - thaw first - then puree in a blender)
Popsicle molds

Open both packages of Gelatin and soak in 1/2 cup water (room temperature) and put aside.
In a medium saucepan, bring the milk & sugar to boil (stirring all the time). Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin mixture (stir until completely combined).
Now slowly add the sour cream and vanilla and stir until combined and set aside (if you are using yogurt instead of sour cream you must allow the milk mixture to cool a little before adding the yogurt).
Puree the strawberries in a blender.
Now - divide the sour cream/milk mixture (that you just finished heating) into 2 equal portions.  Put one half aside and to the other half add the pureed strawberries and stir until combined.
I like to layer the 2 flavors (as you can see by the smaller picture above) - I put some strawberry liquid in the bottom of the Popsicle mold - freeze for 5 minutes and then I top that with the vanilla layer to give it a pink & white flare (as seen in the first picture above).  After the second layer place the filled molds in the freezer for at least 3 hours.  If you have any leftover or extra vanilla or strawberry liquid - then pour into small containers (such as ramekins) and eat with a spoon after frozen (you might need to let it soften at room temperature for 5 minutes if you do it this way).
Substitutions:  Any berry or fruit may be substituted for the strawberries - for example:  peaches are wonderful in this recipe also!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Strawberry Zucchini Coffee Cake

Strawberry Zucchini Coffee Cake

This is another wonderful way to use that "carp of the garden" zucchini (that's what my husband calls it).

I created this recipe with my Strawberry Syrup in mind but you may substitute Strawberry Jam or Strawberry Jelly.  It has a very subtle strawberry flavor but overall it is scrumptious!

Streusel on the left and the cake dough on the right
                                                                                                    Printable Recipe
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup zucchini (shredded)
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup strawberry syrup
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (only if the butter is unsalted)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

With an electric mixer - combine the sugar, butter, milk and strawberry syrup until creamy smooth.  Add the egg and mix on low until combined.  Now add in the flour, lemon zest, baking powder, vanilla, salt & cinnamon until combined.  Finally, with a wooden spoon stir in the zucchini by  hand. 

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

In a separate bowl stir the flour, sugar and cinnamon until mixed.  With a pie cutter blend the butter & vanilla into the dry ingredients.  Now stir in the nuts (I just use my bare hands to mix the nuts into the streusel).

Assembly:  In a square Pyrex pan - add half of the cake dough and then dot with half of the streusel (see picture above).  Then repeat with the second portions of each.  Bake in a preheated 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean).

Allow the cake to cool and then serve with coffee (for a special summer treat serve this with iced coffee).  ENJOY!!


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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Green Pastures and Quiet Waters

"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing.  He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.  He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  I will fear no evil, for you are with me;  your rod and your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil;  my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."  Psalm 23

Just mentally placing myself in that beautiful scene ("green pastures and quiet waters") is soothing.  The center and the glory of these verses is our Lord - Let's break this passage down with that in mind:

1.  God provides - in every situation, even when we didn't know that we needed something- He provided.  I looked up the meaning of provide: "to be responsible for, to supply, to make available" - to the point where we "shall lack nothing"!!

2.  God leads - He is our example and is always making the way for us to follow.  There might be obstacles along the way but He is our leader and will either remove those obstacles or make them small enough for us to deal with.

3.  God restores - again I looked up the meaning of restore: "to bring back to an original condition, to rebuild, to repair."  To me this implies both past and future: He repairs and brings us back to a better time, and in other situations he rebuilds and creates a new and improved self or time.

4.  God guides - This is different than "leading" because it means that He is with us every step of the way - even in "the valley of the shadow of death".  I am reminded of that wonderful poem "Footprints" - He is guiding us always and at the most difficult times even carrying us through!

5.  God is with us - To me this means comfort.  We know that he leads and guides us but He also comforts us in our darkest hour.  He is there calming and reassuring us when we are crying on His shoulder.

6.  God prepares - In this passage it states: "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies."  To me this screams that God is in control.  I just imagine a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, best china, beautiful centerpiece in a lavish dining room and all of this is being prepare for me and right in front of my enemies!!  Therefore putting my enemies in there place.  God is in control of everything!!

7.  God anoints - He blesses us and gives us the spiritual gifts that we need to do His will.  He gives us what we need to get the job done.

Whenever I am terrified and feel as if I am literally in the "shadow of death" - I read these verses and I am always comforted. 

Trust and God will provide, lead, restore, guide, comfort, prepare and bless!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Peach Syrup - Homemade & Homecanned

Peach Syrup - Homemade & Homecanned

What is it about French Vanilla Ice Cream and Peaches - another golden flavor combination!  The best of course is fresh peaches cut up on top of some delicious ice cream but in the winter, my Peach Syrup tastes like fresh peaches picked off the tree.

Similar to my Blueberry Syrup and Strawberry Syrup recipes - This Peach Syrup can be used in many other ways: ice cream, pancakes, waffles, flavor iced tea, in batter (eg peach muffins), in frosting, in homemade Popsicles, in yogurt or kefir.......etc

NOTE: This syrup is on the thin or runny side but for certain uses - such as an ice cream topper, it is easy to thicken with a little corn starch (see "thickening recipe" at the end of this post).

14 cups peaches (washed, pitted and quartered)
2 cups water (filtered)
juice from 1 lemon

Prepare the peaches as described above. Place the peaches, lemon juice and water in a large stock pot and bring to boil. Simmer for 1 hour (in the 2 pictures above you can see the difference in the color - before and after boiling - and that the peach skins have been cooked into the syrup). Now you will need to strain the juice to separate the peach pulp from the liquid. Allow the juice to drain out of the colander for an hour - you might want to press down on the pulp with a wooden spoon to make sure that all of the liquid has been drained.  Unlike my Strawberry & Blueberry Syrups - the peach pulp still has good flavor after boiling, so what I did is puree the pulp and then freeze to use in the winter in smoothies or yogurt.

7 cups peach juice
2 1/2 cups sugar
juice from 1 lemon

Pour the Peach juice into a large stock pot. Add in 2 1/2 cups of sugar and the juice from the second lemon - stir until dissolved.
Gather your canning jars, lids and rings (you will need 6 or 7 half pints):
Canning Basics - Jar Sizes. Also, gather all other canning supplies:
Other Canning Supplies. Start the water boiling for Jar sterilization: Sterilizing Jars & Lids.
Now bring the peach juice mixture to boil (stirring most of the time) and then turn down the heat and simmer for 1/2 hour (While boiling - if any frothy substance appears on the top then remove it and discard the froth).
By now your jars should be sterilized and ready to be filled. Take the jars out of the boiling water (I use my jar remover and make sure that the water is drained out of each jar). Pour the hot Peach Syrup into each sterilized jar and fill each jar up to the jar "threads" (about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch of head space).
Wipe the rim of each jar with a damp cloth making sure that any syrup residue is gone (any residue left on the rim can stop the jar from sealing). Place a sterilized lid on each jar and then tighten a ring on each jar.
Place all jars in a "Water Bath Canner" and process (boil) the jars for 10 minutes (make sure that the water level in the Canner is 1 inch above the tallest jar)
Remove the jars and place them on the counter or table to cool (I always place them on a cloth because there have been a few times when a jar cracked and then the jam oozed out making a mess - the cloth will help if that happens). You will hear the wonderful popping sound of your jars sealing.
Allow the jars to cool for 24 hours and then store in your pantry or in your fruit cellar until the winter and then ENJOY a little bit of summer.

Thickening Recipe:
1 cup Peach syrup (cold or room temperature)
1 tablespoon corn starch
With a whisk - stir the corn starch & Peach syrup until combined (with no clumps). Pour into a medium size saucepan and bring to a boil - stirring all the time. You will know when it is thick enough by the color - The key to thickening with corn starch: the syrup mixture will be cloudy when you start , then after it has boiled - it will be transparent (orange but still transparent).

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Basics - Homemade Peach Iced Tea

The Basics - Homemade Peach Iced Tea

Peach and black tea is another flavor duo that is made for each other.  This is so refreshing on a sweltering summer day (and wow have we had those days this year!)


5 cups water (preferably filtered)
6 black teabags (I used decaf tea)

4 cups cold filtered water
1 cup peach syrup

Boil the water, remove from the burner and then steep the tea in the hot water for about 15 minutes.  In a large pitcher, add the cold water first and then pour in the steeped tea.  Add the peach syrup (see "note" below)
(NOTE:  If you do not have your own canned peach syrup then you may use the liquid from a jar of peaches).

Stir and serve immediately over ice.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Zucchini Desperados

Zucchini Desperados

The Wikipedia meaning of "Desperado" is "a reckless or desperate person."  Every neighborhood has a "Zucchini Desperado" - somebody who leaves zucchini on your front step in the middle of the night with no note or explanation. Someone who tries to disguise zucchini in every dish imaginable.......well - I am the "Zucchini Desperado" in my area ;-)

Actually, my husband named this recipe "Zucchini Desperados" because I am desperate to use zucchini in every meal - we have an overabundance of zucchini.

3 tortilla shells
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
pepper, dill, or basil - to taste

Cut the tortilla shells into quarters (see picture above)(this makes a total of 12 quarters).  Place each quarter in a muffin tin.  Combine the melted butter, olive oil & herbs and then brush a thin layer on the inside of each shell that has already been placed in the muffin tin.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 7 to 10 minutes.  Allow to cool before filling.

1 package cream cheese (room temperature)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon hot red chili pepper (ground) (I use Indian chili pepper)
1 small onion (peeled and finely chopped)
1 carrot (peeled & shredded)

Prepare the ingredients as listed above.  With an electric mixer - combine all ingredients until blended.

1 tender zucchini (washed & cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds)
Cut the zucchini. Now the "Desperados" are ready to be filled. First spread some of the filling (about 2 tablespoons worth) and then top with a slice of zucchini.

Serve immediately & ENJOY!!
(refrigerate any remaining "Desperados")

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Prodigal Son Parable - The Son Who Ran Away

"Jesus continued: 'There was a man who had two sons.  The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.'  So he divided his property between them.  Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.  After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.  So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.  He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.  When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!'  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: 'Father, I  have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son;  make me like one of your hired men.'  So he got up and went to his father.  But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him;  he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you, I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'  But the father said to his servants, 'Quick!  Bring the best robe and put it on him.  Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it.  Let's have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again;  he was lost and is found.'  So they began to celebrate."  Luke 15:11 - 24

What an amazing parable and how true it is in our modern life.

Have you ever seen a pig in real life? - I'll admit that piglets are very cute but have you ever seen them eat?  Words can't describe what a mess it is and the sounds that they make while eating - YUK!  Just imagine being so low in life that you desire the food that pigs eat - that is the lowest of low.  The youngest son in this parable found himself in that exact situation.  

How many times in our society  have you heard of a wealthy celebrity squandering all of their money only to become destitute? - I can't even count how many times I've heard of that happening (OK - not literally living with the pigs but still similar to this parable).  

I believe that this parable symbolizes our spiritual life and that we all must come to this lowly point in our soul before we realize that Jesus is the answer and the only way!  Not only must we realize this but we must go to our Heavenly Father and confess our sins - just as the youngest son did in this parable.  Notice in this parable: the son first said to himself "I will say to my father I have sinned against heaven and against you."  Then he had to act and go to his father and then when he saw his father in person - he again repeated to him directly "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you."  First came the decision then came the action.  It's the same in our real life - we come to the decision and then pray and ask our Heavenly Father to forgive our sins. 

I also find if very interesting that the father in this parable was looking for his son - "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him" (I think that is my favorite line in this scripture).  The father had never given up hope that his son would return - he was always searching for him and saw him long before the son reached his father's home.

Coming to the Truth can be very difficult but in the end the "Truth will set you free."  Our Heavenly Father has prepared a heavenly celebration for us - all we have to do is go to God in prayer and ask for forgiveness.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Themed Blog & Shop Hop - Patriotic, Red & White & Blue

WELCOME to the fifth
"Themed Blog & Shop Hop"
July 13th 2012!
I'm so glad that you stopped by!

For those of you who are not familiar with "Hops" (a.k.a. Linky party) - a Blog Hop &/or Shop Hop is an event where viewers/followers can upload links onto my blog......Links to their items in their Etsy shops or links to their Blogs. And then we can "hop" from blog to blog or shop to shop.

The theme this month is:
"Patriotic, Red & White & Blue"
Anything having to do with Canada or America - I am a Canadian married to an American......and since "Canada Day" and the "4th" are both in July - we have a Patriotic theme.

So, that means if you have an item in your shop that is patriotic or is blue, white or red, (or any one color or combination of those colors), or has a star design or a maple leaf then please share it with us! -  Or if you have a Patriotic blog post. A recipe, or an item for sale - or anything that remotely touches this topic - then please share it with us.

Although I would love it if everyone joined my blog or became followers of my blog - that is not a requirement to participate in this "Hop". All I ask is that you keep your submissions decent - no offensive content please.

Well, actually there is a second rule:
only 2 submissions per person please.

If you do not have a blog or a shop then please still stop by and take a digital walk through our virtual mall.

I will be having a "Themed Blog & Shop Hop" once a month - the middle of each month. Next month's hop will be on:
AUGUST 16th, 2012


To Etsy shop owners - please only upload links directly to the items that you would like to share with us - not a link to your entire shop - Thanks.

To Blog writers - you may submit any post that fits into the theme - it can be an old post from many months ago (it does Not have to be a recent post). Also, please submit the link directly to the post and Not a link to your homepage - Thank you!

I will be "tweeting" about the submissions throughout the week to come and if there are enough submissions I will be making an Etsy treasury also.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

June Blog & Shop Hop - THE RESULTS

I would just like to thank all of you again for either visiting or participating in my fourth "Themed Blog & Shop Hop" - I had so much fun and I hope that you did also!

Now - The Results (If you haven't already - please checkout all of these wonderful blogs & shops):

There was a tie for the most "clicks":

Wild Strawberry Spice Muffin

and the item with the most "likes":

Salt and Pepper Shakers, Strawberry Fields, Polymer Clay

I did not have enough shop items last month to do an Etsy Treasury List - Hopefully in July
Please join us tomorrow for the fifth Themed Blog & Shop Hop!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rainbow Swiss Chard Quiche

Rainbow Swiss Chard Quiche

My favorite green is Rainbow Swiss Chard - in my opinion it has a better flavor than spinach and it is more beautiful than many flowers.

I make this quiche for dinner at least once a month - I hope you like it as much as I do!

3/4 cup bacon (chopped, fried & drained)
1 small onion (peeled & chopped)
4 cups rainbow Swiss chard (washed, drained & chopped)(you may substitute spinach but reduce the amount to 2 cups instead)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup milk
1 package cream cheese
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh dill
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)
crust (homemade is best but store-bought will work also)

Make & roll out the crust and place in a glass pie pan and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare the ingredients as listed above.  Now place the pie crust in the oven for 12 minutes (baking the crust before filling will make sure that your crust will be crispy and not mushy).  While the crust is in the oven - in a large frying pan - fry the onion, Swiss chard & olive oil for about 7 minutes or until it looks like the picture below.  In a medium saucepan - heat the milk & cream cheese (stirring all the time) until the cream cheese has melted and combined with the milk to make a consistency of pudding.  By now the crust should be out of the oven
Quickly whisk the eggs, dill & pepper.  Now quickly stir in the milk mixture, the sauteed onion/chard mixture & the bacon (the filling should look like the second picture below).  Turn down the heat to 350 degrees.  Pour the filling into the hot pie crust and bake for 35 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then serve - ENJOY!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Woven Lavender Closet Bundles

Woven Lavender Closet Bundles

I had such a wonderful lavender crop this year (I say "crop" but I actually only have 3 very large lavender plants).

Lavender - what a scent!! - In my opinion, the soothing scent of lavender ranks right up there with roses and lily of the valley.  Lavender is actually quite beneficial - as an essential oil it can aid in sleep, anti-stress and general relaxation.  Also, lavender is a moth deterrent - instead of using those stinky mothballs why not try making these Lavender Closet Bundles.

STEP 1:  Harvest your lavender making sure that the stems are about 6 to 8 inches long. (see picture above)
STEP 2:  Count about 13 stalks making sure that the stems are similar lengths and then tie this bundle together with a decorative ribbon of your choice (see picture below).  This ribbon should be 24 inches long and should be tied right under the purple flowers (again - see below).

STEP 3:  Gently fold (or curve) back each stem as seen in the picture above
STEP 4:  Take the ribbon and begin weaving - every other stalk as you go around (see picture below) - this is not easy (or it might be that weaving is not one of my stronger skills).

STEP 5:  Continue weaving until you have a bundle that resembles the finished product below. 
STEP 6:  Knot off the bottom and use the remaining ribbon to hang this Lavender Bundle in the closet.

IMPORTANT:  The stalks/stems must be green otherwise they will just snap off.



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