Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Favorites

I loved Thanksgiving when I was growing up. I loved being with my family, snuggling and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, singing songs, and telling each other what we were thankful for. What I didn't love was the food. I wasn't a fan of the dressing (I thought it was mushy), the sweet potatoes tasted too sweet to me, and I had not learned to like pie.

The first time I hosted Thanksgiving for my family, I decided to look for recipes tjat would be traditional, but that I also might have a chance of liking. I found 2 winners from Cooking Light® that have become favorites for our entire family. Please enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving!

Blue Corn Bread Dressing

I usually make the corn bread the day before making the dressing.


1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

5 tablespoons butter, softened

5 large eggs

1/2 cup fat-free buttermilk

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup blue cornmeal

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray and dust with 1 tablespoon of flour.

3. Place sugar and butter in a bowl and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended.

4. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

5. Stir in buttermilk.

6. Combine 1 cup flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to buttermilk mixture, stirring until moist.

7. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake for 20 minutes or until done. Cool completely and cut into 1-inch cubes.


5 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less -sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

7 ounces bottled roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped

8 cups (1-inch) cubed French bread (about 8 ounces)

3/4 cup chopped green onions

1. Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan; cook until reduced to 5 cups (about 30 minutes).

2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup onion; saute 3 minutes. Add corn and bell pepper; saute 3 minutes.

3. Combine onion mixture, corn bread, French bread, and green onions in a large bowl, stirring to combine. Add broth, tossing to coat.

4. Spoon mixture into a 13. 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until set.

Sweet Potato-Bake

The original recipe is actually called "Two-Potato Bake" and calls for both sweet potatos and red potatos. However, I only use sweet potatos. This recipe is best to make the day you serve it.

8 cups thinly sliced peeled sweet potato (about 2 1/2 lbs)

2 tablespoons minced fresh onion

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 cup fat-free milk

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2 tablespoons grated fresh parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Coat an 11x7-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

3. Place 4 cups sweet potato in dish and sprinkle evenly with onion.

4. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

5. Repeat layers with remaining potato, butter, salt, and pepper.

6. Bring milk to a boil in a small saucepan; pour over mixture.

7. Cover with aluminum foil; cut 8 (a-inch) slits in foil.

8. Bake at 42t degrees for 50 minutes. Unocver and bake 10 minutes.

9. Remove from oven; sprinkle with parsley and cheese. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Aaron James is on the Go!

We're never going to be able to keep up with him now!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank You Veterans!

Today Hannah's school had a Veterans Day program. She's been practicing for the past 2 weeks and we've enjoyed singing all of the patriotic songs at home together. Luke, Aaron, and I went to see the program this morning, and it was a wonderful tribute to our veterans. The only problem was that we didn't see Hannah and she didn't see us. Everyone else's kids looked great, though! Here's our proof that we actually were there.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What Am I Working For?

God blessed me early on in my life by giving me the desire to help and serve others. I always knew that whatever career I went into, I wanted it to be one in which I was helping. My parents, and especially my mother, helped me to cultivate that desire.

So I ended up working at M. D. Anderson, fulfilling my heart's desire - helping others who were going through really tough circumstances. However, when I had Hannah, my heart's desire changed somewhat. I still wanted to help others, but I desperately desired to be with her more so I could serve her entirely. Finally, 6 years and 2 children later, I was given my heart's desire to devote the entirety of my days to being a "homemaker." (That sounds so weird and archaic, but that's what I do and I love it!)

Even though God has provided these wonderful opportunities, work is work and not every part of it is really rewarding. Recently in church, Luke learned Colossians 3:17 - "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father." Actually, he learned the 4-year-old version: "Whatever you do, do your work for the Lord." Our family has taken hold of this verse and made it our own. Its a great verse for Luke to remember when he's coloring, for Hannah to remember when she's doing her homework, and for me to remember when I'm having to do my least favorite chore: laundry! No matter what I am doing - my heart's desire or a task I don't really like that much - I am working for the Lord. God gave me this work, he has answered my heart's desire on more that one occasion, and I am working for Him.

And how can I be successful at this homemaking job? At M. D. Anderson, the administration takes great pains to recognize its employees and acknowledge them for a job well done. Recognition may not be so regular or immediate in the homemaking business. But I recently remembered this quote from Sr. Mary Lauretta - "To be successful the first thing to do is fall in love with your work." I realized that my heart is fickle. I fall in "love" with many things. My desire changes as my life and circumstances change. But to be successful in any of it, I need to keep falling in love with who I'm working for - my Lord, my Jesus. My heart's desire is really to glorify Him. And although I will rejoice in the rewards I am able to experience here on earth - my children's smiles, their right choices, etc., I will also strive to one day receive the greatest reward - to hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" Matthew 25:23.