Thursday, March 31, 2011


I apologize for the reading quality of my last post. I've tried to fix it, but to no avail. It looks like one long, run-on sentence! Argh!

Hospitality 101

As I stated in an earlier post, the Lord really has been working in my heart about becoming more hospitable. I find myself wanting to invite folks over for dinner or just for fellowship, but it's challenging. Trying to coordinate schedules can be impossible! There's a wonderful lady in my church that I'm getting to know. We arranged to have dinner together in February. Our visit was relaxed and fun, peppered with laughter and serious discussions. We completely clicked as we shared how we met our husbands and what the Lord has been doing in our lives. We both were a little sad that our visit had to end, so I casually asked her if perhaps our families could get together sometime soon. Her immediate response was that she'd love to, but it wouldn't be until the end of March that we could get together. Their schedule was so crazy, they were doing something every evening! They were completely stretched thin! Now that April's on the horizon, I hope to invite this family over for some hospitality! I know that it's sometimes difficult for our family to get together with others because my hubs' work schedule is different every day. Sometimes he's home before 4 PM, other evenings it's not until 6 or even 7 before he returns home after a long day! His job is the kind where you don't get to go home until the work's done! Let's get back to the main point ~ hospitality. Scripture is very clear in the matter of hospitality. Paul encourages us as believers in Romans 12:13 that we are to "distribute (ing) to the necessity (or needs) of the saints; given to hospitality." Paul also writes to Timothy about the qualifications of a bishop, or pastor that "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, or good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach." (1 Timothy 3:2) Isn't it amazing that along with his impeccable reputation as a husband, a Godly man, a good judge of character and lives in an orderly manner, God's ideal pastor is known as a man that "treats strangers warmly and treat guests generously"? Wow. Did you notice that qualification is listed before being able to be skillful in teaching the Word of God? I don't know about you, but that speaks volumes to me! Titus 1:8 also states that a bishop is to be "...a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate." 1 Peter 4:9 says that we are to "use hospitality one to another without grudging (grumbling). That, too speaks volumes. No griping about having to clean the house or prepare a meal if you want to have a heart for hospitality! I've been praying about ways I can both have hospitality in my home and on the road. Once I've prayed for the Lord to show me ways, He's provided several opportunities. Providing meals for families in time of need has been one way, others have been to just drop a card or note to someone the Lord has brought to my mind. I want to incorporate a "Food, Fun, & Fellowship" night in our home, inviting a different family over once a month for dinner, games, & chat. For the "Food" part, I like to cook something easy that most everyone will like, such as Taco salad. Taco meat can be made ahead and kept in the Crock Pot; the fixings can be arranged so that everyone can make their own. I like to use both white and blue corn tortilla chips for fun. Dessert can be as easy as ice cream sandwiches or Drumsticks. Canned soft drinks and bottled water can be chilling in an ice chest. "Fun" is adding a game after dinner. A hilarious, fun, and sometimes (!) competitive game is "Catch Phrase". It gets the joint jumpin' every time! We usually play "boys against the girls" for a total blast. Other fun party games include "Guesstures", "Pictionary", "Pass the Pigs" and "Speed Uno". "Fellowship" is just getting to know one another better, sharing prayer requests and closing with prayer. We had such an opportunity this past weekend. We met a wonderful couple, Jeff & Stacy at a church my husband was filling the pulpit for. They graciously invited us out for burgers at Wendy's after the evening services. Even though we had only met them earlier that morning, we "clicked" with them. They are around 10 years older than we are, have 8 children, homeschool, and are very involved in the ministry. Simple burgers, fries & shakes were transformed to a feast as we chatted about family, ministry, the Bible, Bill O'Rilley, and Glenn Beck. We shared prayer requests and laughter. When we rose to leave 2 hours later, our hearts were knitted. As I hugged Stacy, she said, "Well, we'll see you again either here or in the air." What a treasure! Hospitality. It blesses you as much as it can bless others. Think about it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Simply Cheese Enchiladas


3 c. shredded Cheddar-Jack blend cheese
5 oz. (half of the tub) Philly Cooking Creme, Santa Fe blend
1 c. picante sauce
1 medium diced red bell pepper
1/2 c. sliced green onions
1 can diced green chilies
8 flour tortillas


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

Combine 2 cups of Cheddar-Jack cheese, cooking creme, 1/4 c. picante sauce, pepper, onion, and chilies. Mix well. Spoon filling into center of each tortilla. Roll and place seam side down in pan.

Mix remaining cooking creme with remaining picante sauce. Pour over top of enchiladas, sprinkle with remaining cup of shredded cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted. Serve topped with lettuce, shredded cheddar, sliced green onions, and black olives. A side dish of creamy guacamole and tortilla chips round out this meal nicely!

You can also add 1 lb. of cooked ground beef or 2 c. cooked, shredded chicken to the cheese mix.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Disclaimer: This isn't a post about hospitality like I had planned. The Lord laid this on my heart early this morning. Hello. My name is Shelly ~ and I'm a die hard Food Network Junkie. I've been known to watch the Barefoot Contessa for an hour straight, even though I may have already seen the episode. I enjoy Paula Deen and Giada at Home. I actually bite my nails during Iron Chef and will admit that I've shed tears at the reveal during Restaurant Impossible. My kiddos love seeing how things are made on Unwrapped, and they absolutely adore Cupcake Wars. In fact, the hubs has been know to watch a little bit of "Triple D" (when nothing else was on, mind you!). My cooking as improved immensely ever since we had satellite installed ~ Food Network available. The hubs has even declared that it pays for itself because of the delicious, new dishes I've brought to the dinner table. I've picked up little tips and hints over that past years, but one that amazes me over and over is the use of ~ salt. Salt actually enhances and brings out the sweetness in sugar. I tried an amazing chocolate bar a few months ago that was a bittersweet chocolate laced with ~ of all things ~ sea salt. It was incredible! Salt also brings out the sugars in veggies, especially onions. I love sauteing onions in butter ~ there's nothing quite like that smell ~ and I add in a little pinch of salt. It causes the moisture in the onion to evaporate, and the natural sugars come out and caramelize the onion into tasty goodness! I also love roasting veggies, chicken breasts, and pork tenderloin with a mixture of salt, pepper, and olive oil. It's simply amazing what the salt does! I also have learned to toss in a good amount of salt when I'm boiling potatoes, rice, or pasta. None of these items have much flavor on their own, but when you add salt ~ flavor! Not only does salt season food, it also preserves food. I used quite a bit of pickling salt last summer during my pickle-making episode. I've seen Ina Garten use a rub of kosher salt and dill plus other spices to make gravlox. Salt can also used as an abrasive. Rachael Ray uses a bunch of coarse salt and garlic to make a garlic paste. I've seen Martha Stewart clean tarnished copper pans with a paste made of nothing but salt and a lemon wedge. Although inedible, rock salt melts the ice and keeps one from slipping on it. Salt. Who would have thought? Something so inexpensive and readily available can improve almost anything! I've now become a bit of a "Salt Snob". I have four different types of salt in the cabinet right now. Regular table salt ~ I bake and finish foods with it. Kosher salt ~ I cook with it all the time. Pickling salt ~ umm ~ I make pickles with it. I've also used it in baking since it dissolves so quickly. Coarse sea salt ~ I finish dishes with it when I want a salty bite, like on the crust of Chicken Pot Pie. As I did my little study on salt and its uses, the Lord reminded me of his command from the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5:13) "Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." Also, the Apostle Paul wrote in his epistle (Colossians 4:6) "Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." That got me to thinking, "What kind of salt am I?" First of all, only the genuinely born-again person is salt and can help meet the needs of the world. Just as salt adds flavoring, acts as a preservative, melts coldness and heals wounds, we are called to do the same. Which brings me back to the question ~ What kind of salt am I? Do I enhance and bring out the sweetness of Christ in my life? Do I add a liveliness/flavor? Do I warm people, or leave them out in the cold? Are my words wholesome and encouraging? or am I too abrasive? If I "loose my savor", then I loose my effectiveness as a Christian. My "testimony will be trampled under the feet of men." So, my dear sister, "What kind of salt are you?"

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hospitality ~ A Life That Says "Welcome"!

Within the last year, the Lord has placed a desire in my heart to become more hospitable. I think there are many reasons why hospitality is no longer practiced like it was back in the day. First of all, we've become so busy that we barely have time together as families! Secondly, it's just downright intimidating! I know that some people feel the need to reciprocate, but they don't think that their house is clean/large enough to accommodate visitors. Some may believe they lacking the skills ~ in other words, they're not like Martha Stewart! After all, she is the "Domestic Diva"!

Through careful study and reading several hospitality books, I've realized that hospitality isn't entertaining! Karen Ehman writes, "Entertaining puts emphasis on you and how you can impress others. Offering hospitality puts the emphasis on others and strives to meet their physical and spiritual needs so that they feel refreshed, not impressed, when they leave your home."

With the desire to become more hospitable, I began to search the Internet for Christian-themed hospitality blogs. "Comfy in the Kitchen" is my favorite! (Her button is in my sidebar.) This young wife and mother truly has a heart for hospitality. She makes healthy, nourishing meals to bless other families. Her amazing meals are delivered to those in need, new moms, and families who are ill. I'm touched by her sincere desire to "give... a cup of cold water to one of these little ones (those who may not get noticed) because he is my disciple...." (NIV)

I also admire the fact that she isn't so busy doing all these things that she neglects her family. They receive the same yummy meal, plus she's teaching her young children to be hospitable as well.

Tomorrow I'll post some of the ideas of hospitality the Lord has laid on my heart. For now, remember: "Let us not love only in word... but in deed and in truth." (KJV)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Decorating Your Home

Oh, how I love to decorate! Give me a unadorned room, an unlimited supply of cash, and all the time in the world, and I'm in total bliss! Of course, it's a rarity to be able to live out the above scenario. In reality, we must make do with what we have and perhaps incorporate a few small expenditures for our vision to come to pass.

As newlyweds, all of our furniture had been handed down from our parents and a wonderful friend of mine. For example, our now-bedroom dresser had once been my changing table as a baby. My father-in-law had made our bedroom side table when he was in high school. Most of our living room furniture had belonged to my parents. All the furniture was in reasonably good shape and had been well-cared for.

As our family grew, however, things happened. Seven moves in seven years resulted in a broken hide-away couch. Infants initiated chair and couch cushions as only they can. The square footage of our living room varied from teeny-tiny apartments, awkwardly placed windows in a mobile home, weird extra rooms in an old Victorian, to the nicely sized area we live in now.

When we bought our first home (we currently live there now) my "colors" were (because of the hand-me-downs) slate blue, mauve pink, and cream. Our new living room had newer, earth-tone carpeting and warm ivory walls ~ but the drapes! I believe the word hideous should be used here ~ bright, dark burgandy-red (mainly red) drapes that were backed with a heavy white rubber-like material. Since we didn't have the extra cash to purchase new ones, I knew I had to somehow incorporate bright burgandy into my palette of restful blues, delicate mauves, and creamy ivories.

Fortunately, on a trip to either Khol's or Penny's, I found inexpensive throw pillows that had a floral pattern of blue, mauve, ivory, and ~ dark burgandy! A trip to Hobby Lobby enabled me to add inexpensive touches of burgandy to my floral arrangements, and voila! It worked!

Our bedroom walls were bright yellow and white sponge painting ~ what were these people thinking? So we repainted it with a creamy white. When we could afford it, the hubs finished the walls with a decorative glaze that looks like denim. We topped it with a country border that has hearts and sunflowers and other blue flowers on a creamy shelf. Now the room is denim blue and cream with touches of brick red hearts and golden sunflowers. Since we didn't have a headboard, we purchased some European pillows that serve as our "headboard".

My dream is to make my own headboard someday with plywood, batting, and denim fabric. We'd love to purchase a new bedroom set, but it's not in the budget. For now, my former changing table and my father-in-law's high school project are working just fine. Our old corner entertainment center houses our TV, and another hand-me-down entertainment table is my side table. God always provides for our needs, but He also blesses us with our wants, too.

My father-in-law took pity on us shortly after we moved into our current home six years ago. He and my mother-in-law came over to watch the kiddos for us while the hubs & I went out for a date. F-I-L tried to take a nap on our tiny loveseat, but was unsuccessful. When the hubs & I arrived home, he informed us that they would be giving us some cash to get "a decent couch".

A week later, we bought the current living room set we have now ~ and it was even on sale! With some of the extra cash, we bought a new entertainments center as well as a couple of nice end tables. I was thrilled to finally (!) get rid of the rubber-backed burgandy drapes that came with the house to a pleasing, nubby shade of olive green. Our living room is now done in comforting earth tones. The overall effect is cozy and restful. My idea of bliss!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Hershey's Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

I spotted this recipe in a magazine at least 17 years ago. When I really want chocolate, this hits the spot every time! The cake is extremely moist, and it has the most decadent, rich fudge sauce ~ a chocolate lover's dream!


1-1/4 c. granulated sugar, divided
1 c. all-purpose flour
7 T. Hershey's cocoa powder, divided
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. milk
1/3 c. melted butter
1-1/2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1-1.4 c. hot water


Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together 3/4 c. of the granulated sugar, flour, 3 T. of the cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Stir in milk, butter, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Spread batter into ungreased 8 or 9 inch square baking pan. In another small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 c. granulated sugar, brown sugar, and remaining 4 T. cocoa. Sprinkle evenly over the batter. Pour hot water over the top of the dry ingredients. DO NOT STIR!

Bake 35-40 minutes or until center is almost set. Let stand 15 minutes; spoon into dessert dishes, spooning sauce from bottom of pan over the top. Garnish with whipped cream or serve with vanilla bean ice cream.

For extra chocolate goodness, I love Breyer's Triple Chocolate ice cream ~ white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate all together! Delicious!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Art of Homemaking

"Homemaking is an art, and you have the privilege of expressing and developing all your talents there in a little place called home. You get to build ~ beautify ~ organize ~ create ~ fuss ~ express yourself. You get to read and study and grow and master nutrition, finances, horticulture, design, wardrobe, et cetera.

And you also get to shape your children, to give their precious lives a bent toward God. To nurture their souls with the good things of God. To pass on the truth about Jesus to one more generation.

And to do so means you've got to be dedicated, organized, and a woman of purpose. And you've got to have the spunk and energy to follow through on all the dedication, organization, and purpose that answering God's high calling to homemaking requires."

Elizabeth George, "A Woman's High Calling"

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sausage Stars

My friend Kailley made these for a bridal shower. Needless to say, everyone asked for the recipe as they scarfed these tasty treats!


1 package wonton wrappers
1/2 lb. each of sausage and hamburger, browned & drained
3 c. shredded cheddar-jack blend cheese
1/2 c. sliced black olives
1/2 c. red bell pepper, finely minced
1 c. Ranch dressing


Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin liberally with cooking spray. Gently place a wonton wrapper into each cup, forming a star shape. Spray again 3 times with the cooking spray. Bake for 7-8 minutes, or until golden.

Meanwhile, combine the meats, olives, peppers, dressing, and cheese together in a mixing bowl. When wonton cups are golden, fill with meat mixture and bake another 7-10 minutes. You want the filling to bubble slightly and the cheese to melt. Enjoy!

I usually cook 1 lb. each of the sausage & hamburger. I reserve the other half of the mixture for homemade pizza or spaghetti sauce the next day.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Simple Home

As a full-time homemaker, my greatest desire is that my family finds our home to be a haven of rest, a place of peace, and where their spirits can be renewed.

As I've stated in previous posts, as homemakers, we control the atmosphere of our homes. In fact, our home is the only environment over which we have control. No matter what storms are taking place on the outside ~ whether physical or spiritual ~ our home should be a place of sanctuary.

In her book "The Simple Home", Sharon Hanby-Robie writes, "For most of us sanctuary is synonymous with simplicity. Creating the simple home is not only practical for everyday living but also vital to spiritual health."

Charles Keeler, a poet and playwright in 1906, wrote that "The ideal home is one in which the family may be most completely sheltered to develop in love, graciousness, and individuality, and which is at the same time most accessible to friends, toward whom hospitality is as unconscious and spontaneous as it is abundant. Emerson says that the ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it."

Not only do I want my home to be a place of soul~nourishment for my family, but a place where my friends feel welcomed.

My next posts will be about the purpose of a simple home, as well as decorating hints and my thoughts on hospitality.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Mother-in-Law's Breakfast Casserole

My wonderful mother-in-law made this breakfast for my husband & I when we came for a visit many years ago. She generously wrote out this recipe for me, and it has been one of my main "go-to" breakfasts for almost 14 years!

1 package unseasoned stuffing cubes
1 lb. sausage, cooked & drained
1/2 c. sliced mushrooms (small can)
2 c. grated Cheddar cheese
1/4 c. finely minced onion, sauteed in 1 T butter
1 T. chives
3/4 c. cream
1 1/4 c. milk
6 eggs
1 t. mustard
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Place half of croutons on the bottom, then layer the sausage, cheese, onions, and mushrooms. Combine the cream, milk, eggs, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chives, salt and pepper into a blender. Pulse until mixture is completely incorporated. Pour over the layers in the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

You can substitute bacon or ham for the sausage, or use a mixture of the three. You can also make it vegetarian by adding a variety of peppers or mushrooms.

I usually serve this with my fruit salad and a glass of milk.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Meal Planning and More

One of the most important responsibilities of being a homemaker is to prepare nourishing, healthy meals for our family. As a bride, I was excited to cook for my new husband. However, as the years progressed, the excitement wore off. I was tired of the regularity of our evening meals, even though I had well over a month's worth of recipes. I also wanted to be more creative than having the usual cereal for breakfast and mac-n-cheese for lunch!

Answer to prayer ~ The Food Network! My favorite TV chefs are Paula Deen & Ina Garten. Also, the Internet! I love, love love Ree Drummond, a.k.a. "The Pioneer Woman". All of these women prepare what I call regular food ~ delicious, simple food that doesn't involve expensive ingredients or wierdo combinations.

The above-mentioned women were home cooks that expanded to businesses. Paula started her own catering service called "The Bag Lady". Ina bought a specialty food shop/catering business, and became known as "The Barefoot Contessa". Ree began a simple blog to share her daily experiences on a ranch, but has burst out on the scene with her own successful cookbook and new novel. Now these women enjoy cooking for the sheer pleasure of it!

I'm always in search of a new recipe, or a new way to do things to make my cooking better. I've learned through Ina that roasting food makes the flavors richer and concentrated. (Her recipe for roasted onions is amazing!) Paula has several recipes that have now become some of my family's favorites, such as her Mashed Baked Potatoes, and Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler, to name a couple. Ree's Chocolate Sheet Cake and 4-Cheese Pasta are incredible!

Since the hubs gets paid every other week, I have to shop accordingly. The Thursday before, I sit down with cookbooks, printed recipes off the web, and my recipe box. I do my best to incorporate what I have on hand first as I choose 14 dishes for supper, breakfast, and lunch. I plan on 2 desserts per week and 2 appetizers for us to munch on Sunday evenings ~ our large meal is at lunchtime. Since our weekends are now open (Upward Basketball and Cheerleading are over for the season) I'll plan 2 "big" breakfasts as well.

After the meals are chosen, I write down everything I need to prepare them. I also try to plan easier meals for our busiest evenings ~ things I can make ahead or stick right into the oven. I write them down on a calendar, but I don't make a big deal of it. If I happen to cook Wednesday's meal on a Monday, it's totally okay.

Here's my menu for this week 2/27-3/5:

2/27 B: Cereal, Fruit, Milk (Our norm for Sundays.)
L: We were able to eat out at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Casa. Yummy!
D: Popcorn ~ we were still full from Casa!

2/28 B: Cereal Bars, Fruit, Yogurt
L: PBJ Sandwich, Fruit, Water
D: Pizza, Salad

3/1 B: Waffles, Fruit, Milk
L: Leftover Pizza, Carrots w/ dip, Water
D: Meatloaf, Mac-n-Cheese, Green Beans, Water

3/2 B: Cereal, Fruit, Milk
L: Mini Ravioli, Fruit, Water
D: Chicken Pot Pie, Green Salad, Strawberry Jello w/ fresh whipped cream topping

3/3 B: Scrambled Eggs, Bacon, Milk
L: Mac-n-Cheese, Fruit, Water
D: Tuna Noodle Casserole, Peas, Water

3/4 B: Blueberry Muffins, Fruit, Yogurt
L: Turkey & Cheddar Sandwich, Fruit, Water
D: Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, Mixed Veggies, Chocolate Pudding, Water

3/5 B: Cereal, Fruit, Milk
L/D: We'll be in Kansas City all day for the annual AWANA games, so we'll be eating out.