Category Archives: feasting

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

The girls and I did some food styling to shoot my pumpkin chocolate chip “brownies” after I baked them yesterday.

Recipe Round-Up Three

BLT Chicken Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing from Bon Appetit via Perry’s Plate: good, but could use something else… feta? will keep at it.

Homemade Coffee Creamer from Deliciously Organic: I made Pumpkin Spice, can’t wait to try others.

Southern Pimento Cheese from allrecipes: basic recipe, but my family likes it (and they are not huge pimento cheese fans.)

Tortellini with Eggplant and Peppers from Real Simple: healthy, easy and good. I served this with Italian Sausage. Only Lexi didn’t love it (and I am the only big eggplant fan in the family.)

Turkey Meatloaf from Ina Garten: really delicious. I made ours 1/2 beef, 1/2 turkey because beef was cheaper than ground turkey.

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

The lows are in the 50s this week in Memphis and so fall recipes are on my brain. This one serves six to eight by itself. If you serve with a frittata or breakfast casserole, much more.

3 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
salt (several hearty dashes)

1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 tbsp melted butter
2 large eggs

1/2 c. – 1 c. chopped apple
1/2 c. – 1 c. pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 2 1/2 – 3 qt. casserole dish. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the wet ingredients until smooth and add to dry ingredients, stirring to combine. Pour into dish and bake covered for about 45 minutes (until a toothpick or knife comes out clean.) Serve with milk and/or yogurt.

This is a quick iPhone shot. I have yet to master food photography while serving. Food is for eating, after all!

(Adapted from The Sweets Life.)

Recipe Roundup II

Baked Sweet Potato Fries from Cookie + Kate: pretty good, but my technique needs work, I hate trying to flip baked fries. It would also be nice to come up with the perfect dipping sauce.

Beef & Broccoli from Steamy Kitchen: Awesome, but I expected nothing less (used regular broc b/c I couldn’t find Chinese.) For the record, the only blogger cookbook I own is from SK, until the Smitten Kitchen one comes out, at least :)

Speaking of Smitten Kitchen, Lord have mercy, Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake was so very delicious.

Chicken, Corn & Zucchini Enchiladas from Real Simple: Healthy and delicious! Made twice, preferred flour tortillas. Salsa topping can be skipped.

Grilled Balsamic-Garlic Crusted Pork Tenderloin from Kitchen Confidante: Pretty good, but hard to mess up pork tenderloin, honestly.

July Recipe Roundup

Here are some recipes around the internet I’ve tried lately. If I tweak a recipe and really love it, I will try to give it a post of its own as I have in the past.

Baked Parmesan Tomatoes from Eating Well: I subbed basil for the oregano and they were delicious.

Eggplant & Mozzarella Melt from Everyday Food: Really thick but pretty good, Lexi ate eggplant, so that’s a win.

Greek Chicken Salad from Annie’s Eats: I didn’t follow the recipe, just used the idea of taziki instead of mayo, added tomato and feta, and felt like it needed a little something more so I added a little bit of balsamic vinagrette.

Roasted Pork Chops and Peaches from Real Simple: I liked it but I probably wouldn’t make it again.

Taziki Sauce from Susie: very good and very cucumber-y!

Things I’d Commend To You

S’Mores Pie: I use semi-sweet chocolate and large marshmallows (my kitchen is candy thermometer-less – birthday wish!) I broil the final step on low until the marshmallows are big and puffy and then high to brown. It’s easy and delicious.

Half-Pint Handouts: Megan gives things away. You can win them. I’ve won TWICE. Yay for her diligence in securing great giveaways and hurrah for winning things.

New Orleans Snowballs: My favorite summer treat, but since we moved away from Austin, we have not coexisted with a place. Apparently one just opened in Birmingham to mock me. If you happen to be lucky enough to live where they serve snowballs, get yourself one, stat.

Downton Abbey: Only 7 episodes long (each UK season series is too blasted short!) but so marvelous. Must see during the summer hiatus.

Ordinary Time

A continuing series on celebrating the church year.

Ordinary Time is the rest of the church year, from Trinity Sunday just after Pentecost to Christ the King Sunday, which precedes the first Sunday in Advent. It gets it’s name from the word “ordinal” and refers to the counting of weeks, not the commonness of the season. I love how the Circle of the Church Year Godly Play materials refer to this long stretch of liturgical green as growing time. After we have been immersed in the seasons of Advent, Epiphany, Lent and Easter, each with a distinct focus, we have this large chunk of time that is not focused. This is a time when individuals, families and churches can discern where they need to grow and devote themselves to that.

If you take some time to prayerfully consider how you ought to use ordinary time in your family life, I’d encourage you to include your children as much as appropriate. Some brainstorming questions might include, “In what ways can we grow to be more like Jesus?” “What fruit of the Spirit seems to come to you least naturally?” “Are there any habits (spiritual disciplines) of Christians you’d like to learn more about and practice?” “What parts of the Bible do you feel least familiar with?” Obviously, as a parent one has some insight into this and you can use the time to focus on what you find important.

In the rhythm of the church year, ordinary time is a rest. Because of the length of time, you can be leisurely and not as intense with any goals you set. Also feel encouraged to take a break and reevaluate some of the spiritual habits of your family. If you are participating in a church summer activity (like scripture or catechism memorization) that may fall later in the season.

Ascension and Pentecost At Home

A continuing series on celebrating the church year.

Forty days after Easter (so, this Thursday, June 2nd in 2011) is the day we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord. Most churches celebrate it on Sunday, so feel free to be flexible with the day. The following Sunday (10 days after Ascension) we celebrate Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the birth of the church and the end of the season of Easter. Ascension and Pentecost remind us that we are part of a continuing story that did not end with Christ’s resurrection, and by celebrating at home, we connect our lives, churches and stories with the narrative of the church.

The most critical element of Ascension Day is helping kids to understand what happened. Reading the account in Acts 1 (verses 1-11) is a good way to remind them. Jesus rose from the dead, appeared to his disciples several times, and then ascended into heaven where he remains, sitting at the right hand of God the Father, serving as our advocate.

Good hymns to sing would be “A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing” originally in Latin by the Venerable Bede, which can be set to the same tune as “All Creatures of Our God and King” and “On Christ’s Ascension I Now Build” which has a familiar Lutheran/Bach tune.

Many people take hikes up to the top of a hill near their city to commemorate the Ascension. I have seen it suggested several places to use helium filled balloons, such as releasing a group of white balloons with one colored balloon (green could represent everlasting life). Watching them drift onward and upward is a way to remember the Ascension.

Looking at paintings of the Ascension (like this one) are good conversation starters. What would it have been like to be there? On Ascension day there was one last promise of the Holy Spirit. You could wrap a small gift for the family to leave out until Pentecost. Any food that reminds one of clouds, from marshmallows to anything cut in a cloud shape, would be very festive. There is an old Anglican tradition of beating the bounds of the parish that would be cool for neighborhood oriented churches or small groups to use as a creative launch pad, such as walking around the bounds of your area together and praying for all who live there.

The account of Pentecost is found in Acts 2. It is equally important for children to hear and understand, a critical piece of the story of Christianity. Be sure to make a connection so that they understand the Holy Spirit that descended like fire is still here with us today.

It is traditional in many churches to wear red on Pentecost. It is a feast day, so it would be appropriate to gather and share a meal with members of your church. Some people take the fire theme to heart and grill out!

As it is the birth of the church, and fire is a huge part of the imagery of the story, a cake with candles could be very appropriate. You could decorate with candles and red streamers. I think we are going to bust out some sparklers if I can find them. We will also paint some pictures of the imagery of the story. It’s easy and fun to do crafts that represent flames. It might be neat to make different flames and label them with the fruits of the spirit.

Appropriate hymns include “Come Holy Ghost, Creator Blest” and “Spirit of God Descend Upon My Heart.” You can download mp3s with the tunes we use at our current church from Cardiphonia and check out some more Pentecost hymns.

Do you have any ideas for celebrating Ascension or Pentecost?

Holy Week and Easter at Home

A continuing series on celebrating the church year.

In Holy Week we have a unique entry point into the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and good church services have made memorable impressions on me over the years. Certainly utilize whatever your congregation is doing and ask friends how their church is celebrating as well.

Here are a few Good Friday printables I made you may want to decorate with. If you click on them you should be able to save and print them in high resolution.

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday. Your church service may incorporate all of these elements but if it doesn’t, you can observe by reading the account (from Matthew 21 or Mark 11), singing an appropriate hymn such as “All Glory Laud and Honor” and waving palm branches (call around to florist wholesalers if you need to find them.) Save your palm branches for making crosses sometime during Holy Week.

The lectionary is always appropriate, and Gospel of Mark would make a good family devotion for Holy Week, reading 2 or 3 chapters a day. Also, the Lenten Lights devotional can be used for Holy Week, but you need to start the Saturday before Palm Sunday for it to line up. Families with young children might use resurrection eggs (google, there are some variations) for a nightly devotion, opening 1 or 2 each day and reading / discussing the appropriate scripture.

More protestant churches are offering stations of the cross or labyrinth prayer during Holy Week. You can also use the world-wide labyrinth locator to find one yourself. If you have school aged children, this might provide a good opportunity for quiet contemplation and prayer as you prepare for Good Friday.

Holy Week increases in intensity on Maundy Thursday. If you don’t have the opportunity to attend a service that night, you can read the story together from Luke 21:1-13, John 13:1-20, John 13:31-35 and Luke 22:14-62. You can enter the story by breaking up your reading by participating in some of the events such as washing each others feet, sharing bread and wine and going out into the darkness. Some families also use this night to have a Passover celebration. I’ve found that my Good Friday seems much more “real” after following Jesus through Maundy Thursday.

Crucifixion is not an easy topic to talk to children about, but without the cross, we don’t have the hope of Easter. Reading the Jesus Storybook Bible account would be a great start with a younger child. As your children get older, you can sing hymns like “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” and read the account from one of the gospels (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19) and talk about it. What was it like for Jesus? How do you think the disciples felt? How does it make you feel? It might also be helpful to cultivate an atmosphere of quiet and darkness (close the drapes and keep lighting low) for Good Friday and Holy Saturday.

You can make an Easter garden with moss and found objects as a beautiful centerpiece, complete with a tomb to find empty Easter morning. I like this one. If you start early enough, you can also grow one with grass seed, like this blogger did.

Traditionally, Hot Cross Buns are made and consumed on Good Friday. There are other bread traditions such as Kulich which is served in Russia as part of the Easter meal, it would be fun to ask your grandparents if there are any special things they grew up making together during Holy Week and incorporating it into your Easter as well.

In the midst of family obligations and bustling activity, punctuate your Easter with joy. Borrowing from the Easter Vigil service in the Anglican tradition (an awesome liturgy, but long and often very late…) you could give each member of your family a bell and the first one to wake up after sunrise (or whatever time you deem appropriate) can run from room to room ringing it and shouting “Christ is risen!” as everyone else gets up to join them. Read a resurrection Sunday account while you eat your chocolate (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20) and sing something triumphant and appropriate together (“This Joyful Eastertide,” “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.”) Since our church meets in the evening, our tradition is to share lunch with other friends who have out-of-town family, and the feasting and fellowship is a huge part of Easter for our family.

Easter is not a day, but a season of resurrection that lasts for forty days. Doing something as simple as a small dessert every night (dark chocolate squares, fruit, store-bought treats…) could help to remind children of the joy of salvation. A special “Easter only” weekly tradition particular to your family would also be fun.

Here are some free Easter printables as well.

Feel free to share your traditions for making Holy Week and Easter meaningful and memorable in your home, there’s obviously much more than I can possibly mention.

Chocolate Bread Pudding


1 day-old baguette torn into small pieces
2 c. half and half
1/3 c. sugar
dash salt
1/2 Tablespoon instant espresso powder
6 oz bittersweet chocolate in small pieces
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon butter, cut into pieces

Butter a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. If your baguette is new or still moist, heat the pieces at 200 until it starts to dry (but not toast). Place dry pieces in the baking dish, mostly filling it (if you have too much, eat some.)

Heat half and half, sugar, salt and espresso powder until hot (but not boiling) whisking regularly to mix well. Remove from heat, add chocolate, let stand for 90 seconds or so. Whisk until smooth. Beat eggs together in a separate bowl , then slowly add chocolate mixture, whisking as you go. Stir in vanilla and cinnamon. Pour mixture over bread and let soak at room temperature, pressing bread down occasionally for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Boil some water for a hot water bath. Place bits of butter on top of the pudding. Place pudding dish in a larger dish, adding hot water to the larger dish until it reaches halfway up the side of your pudding dish. Bake in this hot water bath until edge is set but center still trembles slightly, 35-40 minutes. Pudding will continue to set as it cools.

Serve with fresh whipped cream, either unsweetened or very lightly flavored. Serves 6. (If you double this, I’d recommend using two dishes for faster setting and an easier time with water baths.)

Happy Epiphany!

This morning I discovered I had been given a very lovely gift, my favorite Epiphany hymn re-tuned four different ways. I’ve posted the text before, as it’s a great tool for teaching about Epiphany and how Christ was revealed in the world as it tells of the wise men’s visit, Christ’s baptism and first miracle at Cana.

May Christ richly bless your home this Epiphany and throughout the year.

Epiphany at Home

A Continuing Series on Celebrating the Church Year.

Epiphany is the day we celebrate the wise men finding Jesus, but it’s more than that. In Epiphany, our savior is revealed, first to the wise men, then through his baptism, his first miracle. Jesus did not remain hidden, rather Christ showed himself to us. Epiphany is an extension of our meditation on the incarnation that began in Advent. He dwelt in the world, not in secret, but with public words and deeds in a variety of places, that all may see him and worship, just as the wise men did when they found him.

Celebrating at home may be as simple as reading the story. You can find the text in Matthew 2:1-12 and a corresponding story in the Jesus Storybook Bible called “The King of all kings.” Continue reading