Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Showers of Blessing

"I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing." Ezekiel 34:26
Soon it will be June, the month that many people consider the "wedding month". Before weddings are showers...bridal showers. I love bridal showers and everything associated with them. I like creating shower games, finding decorations to match the bride's colors, and planning a menu that blends some of the tastes the bride enjoys with the colors she has chosen. 

Last year my sister-in-law Karen married her sweetheart and I had the pleasure of hosting a bridal shower for her. 

The bride's mom, the bride Karen, and her future mother-in-law 
Here are some simple bridal shower ideas that I used: some borrowed, some modified, and some original. I hope some of these bridal shower ideas prove useful next time you have the pleasure of planning a bridal shower!
Choose the shower colors and reflect it in all the details of the shower.  Some of the details that are simple to incorporate with the shower colors are corsages, candles, figurines, ribbons, frames, tablecloths, plates, napkins, plastic wear, banners, doilies, baskets, prizes, wrapping paper, bows, serving plates, serving bowls, figurines, frames, the food & drink, even the kitchen towels.

This shower's colors were red and white.
In the shower invitations I asked each guest to bring a recipe to share. As guests entered I had recipe cards available to record the recipes to share with the bride. Each guest wrote her name on the back of the recipe card she completed. Not only did that give the bride a record of who shared each recipe, but also names to be used for prize drawings.

Recipe Cards for Guests to Complete

Personalization for a bridal shower is also a nice touch. An easy way to provide a touch of personalization is to remove labels from water bottles and replace them with labels that have the names of the bride and groom with the wedding date in the shower colors.
Personalized Water Bottles

Games at a bridal shower  are always fun and only a couple are needed, so there is plenty of time to honor the bride by providing time for her to enjoy opening her shower gifts.  Here is a game that is fun to play. Put the word BRIDAL down the left side of the page and SHOWER down the right side of the page and connect them with a line.  Award 1 point for any word that begins and ends with the letters on each line, 2 points for each word that relates to a wedding, and 3 points for the longest word on each line from the shower guests.

Keep game supplies and gift/giver sheet in one place for easy access.
Also, remember to have a special page in shower colors for the brides gifts to be recorded both as a keepsake and a reference for thank you notes.  Another shower idea is to find thank you notes that match the shower colors and have guests address an envelope as they enter.  Use the envelopes for prize drawings and give the thank you notes and addressed envelopes to the bride for her use later.

Now for the food...a blend of sweet and salty is always a hit for bridal showers.  Keep the colors of the bridal shower in mind when planning it.  I always enjoy including mixed nuts and cream cheese mints for a simple sweet and salty combination.  The recipe for the Slush Punch is at the bottom.  Here are a few examples of the food I served for this red and white bridal shower:
Tortilla Roll Ups

Red and White Chocolate Pretzel Rod Bouquets
Homemade Cupcakes with Coconut Filling

Mini Brownies filled with Peanut Butter Cups or Mounds

My niece Jessica and I slushing the Slush Punch.
Here is the punch recipe I used for this bridal shower.  It needs to freeze over night, so be sure not to wait until the day of the shower to make it!
Slush Punch
(Serves 50 guests)
2 4-serving size boxes of strawberry Jell-O
46 oz. pineapple juice
2/3 cup of lemon juice
1 quart of orange juice
4 liters of 7-Up
6 cups of water
2 1/2 cups of granulated sugar
In a large sauce pan combine sugar, water, and Jell-O.  Boil for 3 minutes.
Stir in pineapple juice, lemon juice, and orange juice.
Divide mixture in half.  (I used Zip Loc Freezer Bags.)  Freeze over night.
When ready to serve, place the frozen contents of 1 container (1/2 the mixture) in the punch bowl and stir in 2 liters of cold 7-Up.  Do the same with the other half in a 2nd punch bowl OR save it for another event.
NOTE: Put this out at least an hour before the shower.  Appoint a "punch slusher" to use the punch bowl ladle to create the slush.  This punch has a consistency similar to an Icee and is a fun texture for a bridal shower punch.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It Tastes Sweet...But It's Not!

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.   John 4:34
This is what Jesus told his disciples after talking to the Samaritan woman at the well.  There is no food more important to us than spiritual food.  Our souls need that spiritual food to remain healthy.  We can receive this spiritual food by reading God's Word and learning about God's Word from those who are truthful spiritual leaders.

Saw this on a friend's Facebook post and it fits here perfectly!

If you are looking for a dessert that tastes pleasurably sweet but is actually low in sugar, this is the recipe to try!  Not only is the end result wonderful but the simplicity of its preparation is almost unbelievable.  Really!  If you still have children at home or have grandchildren visiting, it is a very good recipe to make with them!  Why not give this Low Sugar Berry Cobbler a try?  

Low Sugar Berry Cobbler


All that is needed for this recipe~
1 Duncan Hines white cake mix

12 oz. Diet 7-Up
24 oz. no-sugar-added frozen berries (can be one type of berry or a mixture of berries)

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray Pam in a 9” x 13” rectangular baking pan.
Spread frozen berries evenly in the bottom of the pan.
Spreading frozen blueberries
Separately whisk together the Diet 7-Up & cake mix until thoroughly mixed.
Whisking cake mix and Diet 7-Up
Spread the batter evenly over the frozen berries.
Spreading batter over berries
Bake at 350ᵒ for 45 to 50 minutes.
Ready for the oven
Serve with a scoop or two of no-sugar-added vanilla ice cream.
Time to enjoy!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

"A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones."   
Proverbs 17:22

While recovering from an extended illness, I took the wisdom in Proverbs 17:22 to heart in hopes of recovering more quickly.  Learning something new and the fun of cooking definitely make my heart merry...that explains my new found affinity for Pinterest and its associated recipe blogs. I definitely have the time now, so I decided to try my hand at blogging, too.

Last night my husband and I tried one of the pinned Pinterest recipes.  My husband did the bending, lifting, dish washing, and photography...oh, and periodic taste-testing.   I simply had the fun of cooking (got to keep my heart merry)!  I modified the Pinterest recipe slightly to appeal to the palates of the Burns Bunch.  Here is how we made the Burns version of Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas.

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray Pam in a rectangular baking dish (at least 9" x 13").

Mix the ingredients for the filling in a big mixing bowl.
      3 or 4 cups of shredded, cooked chicken breast
      4 oz. can of green chiles
      1-1/2 cups of salsa (Choose the level of heat you like best!)
      1-1/2 cups of a mixture of shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses
       1 small can of drained corn
Enchilada Filling
Pour a 10 oz. can of Old El Paso Enchilada sauce in a pie plate.
Enchilada Sauce in a Pie Plate
Dip flour tortillas in the enchilada sauce one at a time, ensuring both sides are covered completely.
Dipping Tortilla in Enchilada Sauce
Then put about 1/8 of the filling mix in each tortilla and roll  it.

1/8 of Filling per Tortilla
Place rolled, filled tortillas as close as possible to each other in the baking dish. A baking dish will fit 8 or 9 of these.  The baking dish should be full.
Rolled, Filled Tortillas
Mix topping in a small mixing bowl.
        1 cup sour cream
        1/2 can of cream of chicken soup
        A few dashes of Baja Chicken spice

Spread the topping evenly over the rolled tortillas. 
Topping Spread over Tortillas
Top it all off with 1/2 to 3/4 cups of the shredded cheese.
Covered with Cheese & Ready to Bake
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
Let the cooked enchiladas sit for about 10 minutes before serving.
Enchiladas ~ Ready to Eat

We enjoyed our enchiladas with a tossed salad.  I hope cooking this recipe will make your heart as merry as it made mine.

Baking with My Mom

She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: “Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.” 
Proverbs 31:27-29

My last visit with my family in MS in Nov. 2011~
My brother Mark, my sister Mindy, me, and my mom~
Oh, and this time I baked for my mom!
Since Mother’s Day is in May, this post is dedicated with love to my mom. Many of my happiest experiences revolved around watching my mom bake. When I was very small, I sat on the drain board next to her and watched. As I got a little taller, I stood on a kitchen chair next to her and watched. When I was tall enough to stand next to her and reach the mixer, I was allowed to add ingredients and maneuver the mixer under her watchful eye. Though health issues prohibit my mom from baking now, her homemade pies remain a family legacy of love and yumminess. In fact, we often chose for mom to bake a birthday pie rather than a birthday cake because of their unique yumminess!! The key to my mom’s pies was her homemade crust. In honor of my mom, here is her pie crust recipe:

Mom’s Pie Crust
Cut together 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of Crisco shortening, and 1 tsp salt until they have the consistency of small peas.

Add 6 TBSP of very cold water (Place measured water in the freezer for best results.). Stir mixture into a ball. Cover with waxed paper and allow to set for awhile.

Using a rolling pin, roll with plenty of flour into a circle a little bigger than the pie plate.
Fold into halves then fourths. Open into pie plate. Ensure it extends over the lip of the pie plate at least 1 inch. Then fold over the edge and crimp symmetrically using both index fingers.

Use a fork to prick the bottom of the crust in several places to let out steam.

Bake at 400 degrees until lightly browned. Add your favorite non-bake filling. In future posts, I will share pie recipes with fillings to bake and/or with pie crust on the top and the bottom of pies. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

My 3 Sons

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” 
Psalm 37:4

Around the corner from my childhood home in Pascagoula, Mississippi, lived a very colorful character. I called her Mrs.(pronounced Mizz in MS) Phyllis. She was a wife and stay-at-home mother of 3 sons: Charles, Tony, and Carl. I loved to spend time with her. She did things as a homemaker that interested me like canning her own pickles. I can still remember the vinegar smell, the cheese cloth (1st time I’d heard of that), the Mason jars, and the huge pots of boiling water. She was a great cook. I loved to talk to her as we shelled peas together or she prepared meals – usually with lots of garlic. I remember that she invited me once to eat with her family; she made stuffed shrimp-yum! Her family had a color TV in their family room at a time when we still had a black and white TV, so that was a big deal!

One Saturday Mrs. Phyllis invited our neighbor Paula and me to come to her house and watch “Gone with the Wind” with her family on the color TV. It was a huge privilege, because my mom rarely let me go to anyone else’s home in the evening. I enjoyed watching her family dynamic as much as I enjoyed watching the movie…and “Gone with the Wind” remains one of my all time favorites. I noticed how much she enjoyedinteracting with her husband and 3 sons, and they seemed to love and respect her just as much in return. I remember consciously thinking at the end of that night, “ I hope I have all sons when I became a mother to love and enjoy and be loved by in return just like Mrs. Phyllis.”
This is where Psam 37:4 comes in. Did God place a desire in my heart all those years ago to be the mother of sons because He knew that I would have sons OR did I have sons of my own because God saw at that early age I had the desire for them? Whatever the answer is…I am thrilled with my 3 sons: Timothy, Nathaniel, and Andrew.

My 3 Sons: Nathaniel, Andrew, & Timothy

 My oldest son Timothy is an airborne Arabic linguist for the US Air Force.   My middle son Nathaniel is studying to be a Hebrew linguist for the US Navy.  My youngest son Andrew just finished his 2nd year of college and is transferring to the Art Institute of Atlanta to finish his degree.

Friday, May 25, 2012

And So It Begins...

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:" Ecclesiastes 3:1

Roses from my hubby

We are each the sum of our experiences. At this point in my life I am a daughter, sister, niece, cousin, aunt, wife, mother, daugter-in-law, sister-in-law, friend, teacher, and amateur cook. To remain current, I decided to start a blog. On it I will share experiences that have shaped or are shaping me. I will often share recipes, since many happy experiences involved events, holidays, and occasions with homemade food…especially desserts.
One of the desserts I make that are most enjoyed by family and friends are my homemade chocolate chip cookies. They stay soft and are very yummy. Here is the recipe:

Chocolate Chip Pudding Cookies

Mix 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour with 1 tsp baking soda.

Separately combine 1 cup margarine, 3/4 cup light brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 4-serving size instant vanilla pudding, and 1 tsp vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy.

Beat in 2 eggs. Gradually add flour mixture. Then stir in 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped pecans (optional). 

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet about 2 inches apart. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. (Makes about 7 dozen)