i KNOW my Redeemer lives!

My friend Gillian shared this very encouraging Scripture and thought on her blog last week, which in turn inspired me to share it with you today:

Job 19:25-27

25 I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.

26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;

27 I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!

...try as they may, no one will be able to pull the plug on a man powered by God.

Be encouraged and be blessed today!

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about 2 years ago, i shared a video of Nora the piano-playing cat showing us how practice makes purrfect! well, today i came across an incredible performance by Nora of a piano concerto composed especially for her. it is appropriately entitled CATcerto!

you can read more about the composer, Mindaugas Piečaitis, and the inspiration behind this work at the CATcerto website. you can also follow Nora on twitter @NoraThePianoCat

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giant oatmeal spice chocolate chip raisin cookies

my friend Barbara and her husband Kevin are training for a 100-mile bike ride to support Barbara's mom, who is recovering from lymphoma, and raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. as part of her fund raising, she is also hosting a benefit concert this weekend and asked if i would bake some cookies for sale during intermission.

i opted to make an oatmeal cookie. Barbara suggested making large cookies for the sale, so i went hunting for a recipe and found this giant oatmeal-spice cookie recipe from Southern Living, March 2003. i modified the recipe based on several others i had seen. this oatmeal cookie is chewy on the inside with a lightly crispy outside. while i was mixing up the ingredients, i discovered that i didn't have ground ginger, so i added a little more spice than what the recipe calls for below.

Giant Oatmeal Spice Chocolate Chip Raisin Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen large cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cardomom

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons white sugar, divided
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups quick oats
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup raisins
1 cup chocolate chips

1 In a small mixing bowl, combine first 7 ingredients and mix well.

2 In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of white sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla extract, beating until blended. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing in with a spatula or wooden spoon.

3 Stir in the oats, raisins and chocolate chips.

4 Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

5 Drop cookie dough by level 1/4 cupful two inches apart onto baking sheet. Dip the base of a round glass in the remaining 2 tablespoons of white sugar and press the cookie mound to flatten.

6 Bake 2 cookie sheets at a time at 350F for 11-12 minutes, switching cookie sheets on oven racks midway. Cookies should be golden brown when done. Cool slightly on baking sheets before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

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vegetarian mexican lasagna

to avoid eating out, due to the H1N1 flu virus, and to save $$, i've made a decided effort to start cooking our own meals regularly. yesterday, i made basic rice and beans and we had quite a bit of beans leftover. so today, being Cinco de Mayo, i thought i'd make something Mexican (again) and a variation from our leftovers. i remembered a Mexican lasagna recipe i had seen on the meals matter website and went in search of it. thankfully, i had the necessary ingredients in my fridge and pantry to make a vegetarian version of the recipe.

Vegetarian Mexican Lasagna

12 oz pkg Yves Meatless Ground Round Original
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
pinch of salt
1 12 oz jar salsa
6 10-inch whole wheat and corn flour tortillas (Trader Joe's)
1 can refried beans
1 cup whole milk plain yogurt (or sour cream)
1 cup shredded Cheddar or Mexican Style cheese

1 Preheat oven to 400F.

2 Heat oil in medium saute pan. Crumble meatless ground round into pan and cook to heat through, seasoning with cumin, taco seasoning and salt. Turn heat off and stir in half of the salsa.

3 Spread remaining salsa in bottom of 10-inch glass pie plate. Top with three tortillas. Spread half of the beans over the tortillas, then half of the ground round mixture, then half of the yogurt or sour cream and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the shredded cheese.

4 Top with remaining three tortillas and repeat the layers, topping off with 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.

5 Place pie plate on baking sheet to catch any spillage. Cover pie plate loosely with aluminum foil.

6 Bake in oven until hot throughout and cheese has melted, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve in wedges with additional shredded cheese, guacamole, and a salad of shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, cucumber, cilantro and green onion.

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chocolate toffee crunch honey grahams

my friend, Kelly, made her really yummy Toffee Crunch Grahams again last week. so i asked her for the recipe and made some tonight. well, i made a slightly adapted version of her Toffee Crunch, using some ideas from this recipe of chocolate caramel crack(ers) from Smitten Kitchen. my version uses Midel Honey Grahams made with whole wheat which i picked up from Whole Foods this week. they come in smaller squares and i could fit about 35 on my cookie sheet.

Chocolate Toffee Crunch Honey Grahams

1 box of whole wheat graham crackers
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup brown sugar, firmly-packed
big pinch of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup finely chopped nuts ~ pecans or walnuts, or sliced toasted almonds (optional)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
kosher salt flakes (optional)

1 Preheat oven to 375F.

2 Line bottom and edges of a rimmed cookie sheet (approximately 11” x 17") with foil. Cover foil with a sheet of parchment paper.

3 Line cookie sheet to the edges with graham crackers.

4 In a heavy duty saucepan, melt butter and brown sugar over medium heat. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add salt and vanilla and mix well. Pour over crackers and spread with spatula. Sprinkle with chopped nuts, if desired. If using sliced almonds, save for Step 6.

5 Bake in oven until bubbly, about 7-10 minutes, taking care not to burn.

6 Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips (and flaky kosher salt, if desired). Let stand 5 minutes, then spread melted chocolate chips over crackers. If using sliced almonds, spread almonds over chocolate and press down into chocolate.

7 Let cool completely. Cut or break into pieces and store in an airtight container. Should keep well for one week. Careful, as it’s really tempting to eat them all at once!

frankly, i think Kelly's Toffee Crunch Grahams taste better than my version, but these were yummy, too! next time i make her original recipe, i'll share it with you :)

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vegetarian wontons

i had some leftover wonton wrappers from making the baked banana spice wontons yesterday, so i thought i'd make some savory "meat" wontons tonight. but i used vegetarian "meat" instead. regret that i didn't stop to take photos because i didn't think it was going to be such a big deal. well, i was wrong, because i was really impressed at how they tasted. i had a little inspiration from Rasa Malaysia's fried wontons recipe.

here is what i did:

Vegetarian Wontons
Makes 20 wontons / Serves 4

1 10oz can Companion brand Mun-Cha'i-Ya (Peking Vegetarian Roast Duck), minced in food processor
3-4 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped
2 stalks spring onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, finely chopped/minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
salt & pepper to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
20 wonton wrappers (medium)

1 In a medium mixing bowl, mix minced vegetarian meat, cilantro, spring onion, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and corn starch. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in most of the beaten egg and mix well. Reserve about a tablespoon of the egg for sealing the wontons when wrapping.

2 Place a medium saucepan half filled with water to boil. Meanwhile, wrap the wontons, using about a rounded teaspoon of filling for each wonton. Here is an excellent video by Rasa Malaysia on how to wrap wontons.

3 Place the wrapped wontons in the boiling water, gently stirring to prevent them from sticking. Boil about 5 minutes until cooked and wontons float to the surface. Strain wontons with a slotted spoon or sieve and divvy up wontons in serving bowls.

4 Reserve 3 cups of the boiling water, add chicken or vegetarian bouillon and seasonings to taste. Place desired amount of soup over wontons in serving bowls. Drizzle with sesame oil. Garnish with cilantro and spring onions. Enjoy!

other wonton posts:

VeganYumYum has a nice variation to vegetarian/vegan wonton soup here.

Mochachocolata-Rita shares three ways to do wontons.

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a twist on a banana dessert

i tried making these baked banana spice wontons tonight, courtesy of Vanilla Garlic. i so dig it! so easy and so yummy! served it with vanilla ice cream (wish i had coconut ice cream), and my hubby said it was "like expensive restaurant kind of good!"

thanks, Vanilla Garlic!

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