Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nachos Supreme

I love mexican food. I could eat it every night. This really isn't a recipe. Just set out a bunch of stuff to load up on chips and let everyone build their own.

Here's some topping ideas:

seasoned beef or chicken
cilantro-lime rice
sour cream

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I spy.......God!

Psalm 19:1

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

I love looking up into the sky on a clear night and seeing the vast number of stars. It's instantly awe inspiring. It's breathtaking. No words are needed. You can stare at it for hours and not be bored. You can see the work of God in it.

God created the stars, and planets, and the moon to give light to the earth at night (Genesis 1:14-19). And they do it. They do it faithfully. They declare the glory of God night after night. They don't boast in themselves and say, "look how beautiful I am!" When I see the beautiful night sky I don't feel the need to thank the stars for being awesome, I feel the need to praise God for His handiwork in creating something beautiful! The heaven declare the glory of God. And it's done without words and it can be witnessed by all languages and cultures.
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

Not only has God created the heavens to declare His glory, he has also created us to declare His glory. The heavens are doing a pretty good job at it.

Am I?

What was I made to do? What gifts has God given me? I'm a mother and a wife. When I do my jobs rightly (i.e. help my husband, raise my kids, etc.) it should point others to God.

Also, do I recognize God's handiwork in my life, in my world around me? Am I giving glory to the created or to the Creator? For instance, when I smell the aroma of a newly opened package of coffee beans......long sniff.......eyes closed.....mmmm....! I love that smell! Is that where it stops? It shouldn't! If we truly want to give God glory in everything it should be, "Oh! Thank you God for creating the coffee plant, for causing someone to figure out they should roast it, for creating in us a sense of smell, and pleasure, and letting us enjoy it anytime we want!" Maybe not necessarily in those words, but in that moment of enjoyment are you giving God the credit for His creation? Or are you giving Dunn Bros. the credit? Or are you thinking, "Are you kidding me? You're rambling on about a coffee bean!?"

My point is this: Are you seeing God in your everyday life? Are you giving Him the credit He deserves? Do you realize how BIG God is? Or is He just for church, or when you're in trouble?

The heavens are declaring the glory of God, are you?

Lord, show Yourself to me today in everday things. May I give You the credit You deserve. Help me to see the goodness in Your creations. Thank You for rain, and sun, and green grass, and flowers, and seasons, and shelter, and family, and food, and beds, and blankets, and stars, and quiet, and music, and words, and touch, and babies, and chocolate, and friends, and tears, and love, and birds, and colors, and berries, and puppies, and neighbors, and so much more! May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight! (Psalms 19:14)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Strawberry Cream Cake

Strawberries were on sale last week and I just had to make this cake I saw this winter on America's Test Kitchen.

It's a layered white cake with fresh strawberries and an AMAZING frosting. Is it cream cheese?.....Is it whipped cream?......either would be good.....but both would be what is now my favorite white frosting.

And it has a pureed strawberry filling. I liked it. I hope you do to.

Strawberry Cream Cake
adapted from America's Test Kitchen

1 1/4 c cake flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 c sugar
5 eggs (2 whole,3 separated)
6 T butter, melted and cooled
2 T water
2 t vanilla

Strawberry Filling
2 lbs fresh strawberries
4 T sugar
1 t almond extract
1 t vanilla extract
pinch of salt

8 oz cream cheese, room temp
1/2 c sugar
1 t vanilla
pinch of salt
2 c heavy cream

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and all but 3T of sugar.
Add in 2 whole eggs and 3 yolks, melted butter, water and vanilla.
Whisk until smooth.
In bowl of electric mixer, beat remaining 3 egg whites until frothy.
Gradually add remaining 3 T of sugar.
Beat until soft peaks form.
Stir 1/3 of whites into batter to lighten.
Fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain.
Pour into greased and floured springform pan.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position.
Bake at 325 for 30-40 min.
Cool in pan 10 min, then remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Halve 24 of best strawberries and reserve.
Quarter remaining berries and toss with 4 T sugar.
Let rest 1 hour, then strain juice into a small sauce pan.
Give berries a quick run through the food processor (about 5 pulses).
To the sauce pan add vanilla, almond and salt.
Simmer until reduced and syrupy (about 4 min)
Pour over macerated berries.

In bowl of electric mixer whisk cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and salt until light and fluffy (1-2 min). Reduce speed to low and slowly add heavy cream. Beat until mixture holds stiff peaks.

Using a large serrated knife, slice cake into 3 even layers.*
Place bottom layer on cake stand and arrange a ring of 20 strawberry halves, cut sides down, and stem sides out, around the perimeter of the cake.
Pour halve of pureed berries in the center.
Gently spread about 1/3 of frosting over berry layer, leaving a 1/2 inch border from edge.
Place middle cake layer on top.
Repeat with strawberries, puree, and frosting.
Place last cake layer on top. Pretty side up.
Spread remaining whipped frosting on top, right to the edge.
Garnish with remaining berries.
Serve or chill up to 4 hours.

*Note: There was no way I could have cut my cake into 3 layers. Not sure why, maybe I didn't beat the egg whites long enough. But it was still good with 2 layers.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Menu Monday

Hope you all had a fabulous week. It's a little rainy and overcast here, but it hasn't dampened our spirits yet. Here's what's cookin' at the Coopers.

Chicken fettuccine alfredo/broccoli
Sloppy Joes/coleslaw/fruit
Nacho supreme with all the fixin's
Spaghetti/meatballs/garlic bread
Roasted Corn Tostadas

I'd love to hear what you're having. Or what you had last week. I really enjoy getting ideas from you.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Triple-Layer Chocolate Cake

We love chocolate cake. It's good warm. It's good cold. It's good with coffee. It's good with milk. It's just good. So I had to try out this from scratch version in this months Everyday Food magazine. It's a keeper. Best part is, the basic recipe can also become vanilla or lemon with just a few changes.

Here's the basic recipe first.

Versatile Vanilla Cake

1 c butter
2 1/2 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 1/2 c sugar
2 large eggs plus 3 large yolks
2 t vanilla
1 c buttermilk

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Set aside.
In large mixer bowl cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add eggs and yolks, one at a time.
Add vanilla.
Add in dry ingredients alternating with buttermilk.

Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350 for 32-35 min. Let cool 10 min. before removing from pan.

Chocolate version

Reduce flour to 2 cups and add 1/2 cup cocoa powder.

Lemon version

Add 1 T lemon zest to flour mixture.
Omit vanilla and add 2 T fresh lemon juice to buttermilk.
While cakes are baking, bring 1/2 c sugar and 1/2 c water to boil. Add 1 thinly sliced lemon and simmer 25 min.
Remove lemons. Set aside for garnish.
Add 1/4 c fresh lemon juice.
Using a toothpick, poke holes into warm cake.
Brush with lemon syrup.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I love how this verse gets to the point of what a man needs and what a women needs. They are different.
A women needs love. She needs to feel loved. She enjoys hearing her husband say, "I love you". She appreciates the knowing glances across the table, the "just because" flowers, the kind gestures that show "he knows what I need".
A man on the other hand needs respect. The way a man needs to feel your respect is different than how you need to feel his love. It doesn't have the same effect if you kiss him at the end of the day and say, "Good-night. I respect you!"
So how do you show him respect? Most of the time it is our actions that show if we respect our husbands or not. Do we let them make decisions for the family and then stand by him? Do the kids know he's the ultimate authority in the family? Do you respect him in public? Do you ever criticize something he said or did to your friends? Or his friends? When we show him disrespect in the areas of provider or protector it makes him feel that he's inadequate.
We as wives have the power to build our husbands up or tear them down. Take the opportunity to tell others what a great father your husband is, or how he helps with the cooking, or how much you love him. Praise him in front of others. Tell him and show him that you trust him.

Lord, thank you for giving me Tony. I love that he is a godly man and takes seriously his role as head of our house. Help me to see him the way You see him, the way You created him with his strengths and weaknesses. Help me to love him the way You love him-unconditionally. May I be a good helper to him. May I listen to his guidance as he seeks Your will. Help me to show him the respect he deserves, both in word and in deed, both publicly and privately. May he never have to question if his wife supports him because I trust him and know that he will choose what is best for us as we follow You.

Monday, April 20, 2009

It's a good thing you're cute!

Yeah, so not only did Isaiah get into the pantry again, he also decided to dump the Cream of Wheat on the ground. So while I'm sweeping it up and trying to find the dust pan, he sees his mistake and decides to "help" by grabbing the broom. After realizing he's not quite efficient with the broom he decides to try his feet. Maybe they would be helpful in this situation. No, that's just making more of a mess. He then logically comes to the conclusion in his little 1 year old brain that he should try his mouth. He thinks, "maybe I could just eat it all up before mom gets back and she'll be so proud of me for helping!" (Can't quite tell from the picture, but yes those are sweep-pile crumbs around his mouth)
Well, Isaiah.....I give you an 'A' for effort in wanting to help, but as for all these messes you're's a good thing you're cute!

Menu Monday

Don't you wish we could all be happy and completely satisfied sinking our teeth into PB&J's every night. Well, actually my kids would be and I probably should be. Sometimes I wish I didn't enjoy food so much. I gotta have variety....variety in color...variety in flavors....variety in texture.
Anyhoo, here's my variety for this week.

terriaki chicken/twice baked potatoes/veggie
chicken green bean coconut curry/rice
pulled pork sandwiches/coleslaw/chips
sweet and sour stir fry/rice
Papa Murphy's

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ukrainian Easter Eggs

This year at Easter Tony's mom, Carol, showed us how to decorate eggs Ukrainian-style. She learned how by taking a class while vacationing in Florida. Turns out the kits to make the eggs are sold right here in Minnesota! Roseville even!
You do a series of wax drawing and dye dipping. For example, first you cover up with wax everything you want white. Then you dip the egg in yellow dye. Cover up everything you want yellow. Then you dip it in green dye. etc, etc, until you go through every color. Then you melt off all the wax and dip your egg in varnish to protect and preserve the colors.
We all thought it was pretty cool. Looks like we found a new Easter tradition. Thanks Carol!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I CAN'T do all things

Spring Break is over. For me it was a taste of what's to come this summer.....siblings readjusting to being with each other all day long, me readjusting to 3 kids being home all day long, no 8:00 bedtime, each kid realizing the restrictions of freedom according to their age (Addie crying as Evan gets to cross the street to play with friends, Isaiah crying at the front door window because Evan and Addie get to play outside). Yeah, it's going to be fun, right?...tending to each kid's needs...trying not only to keep them alive but also trying to instill some sort of godly character... trying to be teacher, nurse, friend, nanny, princess, wrestler, chauffeur, disciplinarian, referee, beautician, personal trainer, game planner, TV monitor, role model as well as chef, nutritionist, wife, mom, maid, laundry mat, personal shopper, comforter, encourager, gardener all at the same time!

How in the world am I going to get all of that done everyday with a good attitude and without losing my mind? Praise God I don't have to on my own strength! I've tried. It's not good. In fact it's down right ugly and it spreads through the whole household. When I get myself out of the way (pride, my own schedule, laziness, etc.) and start my day off tuning into God (reading the Bible and praying) then He provides the strength I need to get through that day. Things that might normally get me frustrated somehow dissipate as I look at it as a chance to exercise spiritual growth and God sanctifying me to become more like Christ. It's not always easy, but it is always worth it.
Matthew 7:13-14 says, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." I know Jesus is talking about salvation here, but I think it can apply to this as well. Anyone can take the easy, wide road and choose to be frustrated, angry, inconvenienced by their kids, but that way-while at first may be satisfying-leads to destruction. However, if I choose to take the more challenging, narrow road and practice patience, self-control, speaking softly to my will lead to life!

Lord, help me to make seeking You first a priority every day so that I can know Your will and do the tasks You have for me in Your strength and not my own.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Honey-Mustard Chicken

This dish is an easy, tasty favorite at our house. The flavor of all the ingredients combined marry together wonderfully! FYI-if you aren't a big mustard fan I'd still give this a try. Somehow cooked mustard tastes different, especially when paired with honey. The flavor is very mellow. This is another one that I don't have a recipe for-you just squirt some of this and add some of that-but I'll try to assign some #'s to it for ya.

Honey-Mustard Chicken

4-5 chicken breasts
1 small onion
1 pint mushrooms, sliced

Brown chicken in a large skillet on med-high heat with a little bit of olive oil.
While browning season chicken with salt and pepper.
Squirt some honey and mustard on each piece and sprinkle with dill.
Turn each piece over and repeat. (see pic below.....maybe about a tablespoon sized squirt on each?)
Add sliced mushrooms and onions.
Cook until liquid has evaporated, chicken is cooked through, and mushrooms and onions start to caramelize-about 20min.

Menu Monday

Hope you all had a happy Easter with lots of yummy food! We did. Spaghetti and meatballs with Tony's side and spice rubbed chicken with my side.

Here's what's on the menu for this week.

spanish chicken/rice/beans
deep dish pizza

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Greatest Love

As Easter approaches I think about this last week of Jesus' life. How last Sunday he rides into town on a donkey with people shouting praises to him (Matthew 21). And just a few days later those same people are ready to crucify him (Matthew 27). He is betrayed by one of his own, tossed around between Pilate and Herod, hears the Jewish crowd cry "crucify him!", is beaten and mocked and spat upon, is made to carry his own cross on his raw beaten back to the place where they will drive spikes through his hands and feet. He did all of this without fighting to get away, without complaining, without resistance. Why? Was he helpless to stop it? He could have stopped it. John 10:17-18 says, "For this reason the Father love me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again." Today's verse is John 15:13, "Greater love has no one that this, that he lay down his life for his friends." Jesus went through all of that willingly because he loves me and he loves you. God is a holy, righteous, and just God. Because He is righteous, He hates sin. Because He is just, He demands payment for sin. Romans 6:23 explains what the payment is, "For the wages of sin is death,". Anyone who has ever sinned even once is guilty and will be expected to make the payment of death! But, thankfully, Romans 6:23 continues and says, "but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." God demands death for sin, that's is what Jesus did on the cross. Jesus never sinned. I sinned. You sinned. I deserved the kind of death Jesus had to endure. But Jesus performed the greatest act of love by taking our place and dying for us. He did it willingly, with out resistance because he knew it was the only way we could be with God. If we believe that we are sinners, and we believe that Jesus did that for us, and we confess to God our need for Him, He gives us the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. That means that when God looks at us, if we love Jesus, he sees our payment for sin paid. Justice was fulfilled. Jesus paid the price for us!

Here's everything I just said put to song. Please listen.

Thanks you Jesus for suffering for me and paying my debt. You have given me true life. May I live it for You! And never forget what it cost you!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Coffee Toffee Ice Cream

This coffee ice cream actually tastes how coffee smells! You better make a double batch and you better have people over or else you'll eat it all yourself.

Coffee Toffee Ice Cream
Rebecca's version of Ben & Jerry's recipe

1 c Heath toffee bits
2 eggs
3/4 c sugar
2 c heavy whipping cream
1 c milk
3 T French Roast coffee grounds

Combine the milk and coffee grounds in small saucepan.
Gently heat, stirring constantly until it steams.
Remove from heat. Pour into French Press and let cool.
Pour out strained flavored milk and refrigerate until cold.
Whisk eggs until light and fluffy. Add in sugar and mix another minute.
Add cream and flavored coffee.
Transfer to ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions.
After ice cream stiffens, add toffee bits and continue mixing another 1-2 minutes.

Makes 1 quart

Monday, April 6, 2009

Menu Monday

Here's the menu plan for this week.

Swedish Meatballs/noodles/veggies
thincrust pizza/fruit
panera-like tomato soup/salad
grilled chicken/asparagus/sweet potato fries

What's cookin' at your place?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spiritual Transformers

There are three things in this verse that strike me: conforming to the pattern of the world, renewing your mind, and knowing God's will. Let's unpack this a bit.

What is the pattern of this world? The world is God's. He created it. But, the world is fallen and we are sinful by nature. We come out selfish. Nobody has to teach a baby to be greedy and selfish. They figure it out on their own. And pretty, darn early too! We, as parents, DO have to teach our kids how to share and be self-less. Our minds are by nature self-worshiping. The world is by nature against God. If left unchecked, Galatians 5:19-21 describes some of what happens when you walk according to the world. It calls it "the flesh".
19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
At first glance, it's easy to read the list and think "Well, I'm not that bad. I guess I'm OK." But if you are honest with yourself and if you see things as God sees them, we are all in trouble. Did you see the last part of the verse? "will not inherit the kingdom of God"? God is so holy. To him hating someone is the same as murder, having lustful thoughts is the same as committing adultery (see Matthew 5). So we are all in trouble without a Savior. But how do we not do these things? That's where the renewing of the mind comes in. Because our minds are bent to do what is wrong, we need to continually be training it, or renewing it, to do what is right. It's an ongoing process, daily, hourly. And it doesn't happen on our own power. That would be selfish again to think that we could do it on our own. We need God's power through the Holy Spirit to lead us. If you back up in Galatians 5 to verses 16-17 we read...

16But I say,walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratifyAE)"> the desires of the flesh. 17For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
To be transformed we need to walk by the Spirit. What does that look like? Keep reading in Galatians, verses 22-24.
22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control;against such things there is no law. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
So it is the Spirit who helps us not conform to this world by transforming us into Christ-likeness through the renewing of our mind by showing us God's truth in scripture.

"Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is..." We always choose our greatest desires. Do I want chocolate or strawberry? Should I sleep in or get up and read my Bible? Should I help my husband or keep watching my show? When we are walking according to the flesh our will or our desires don't line up with God's. Once we get into God's Word and He transforms us, we start to see things the way God sees them and our will will be the same as God's will. Our greatest desire will change and will be the same as God's. And His will is good, and pleasing, and perfect. What used to, drink, sarcasm, yelling, laziness, sleep, jealousy, envy, etc....won't satisfy anymore. Only God will satisfy.

Lord, help me to fight against the desires of my flesh. Give me the strength to do and choose what You are showing me is right. Continue to transform me so I look more like the fruit of the Spirit-love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.