Monthly Archives: March 2011

An Unexpected Treat

unexpected blessingsI had an unexpected treat in the middle of a work week yesterday.

I had a  date with my honey – all day!

My husband had to drive to the eastern part of the state to pick up some special parts for work – and he asked me to ride along.

Of course I said yes!

And – other than the fact that we had to be up at 4:30 and on the road by 5:30 – it was a wonderful day!

We watched the sun rise in the east as we started off in the morning and set in the west as we headed home  – giving us twelve hours in the car to talk, laugh, remember, and just be together.

It was so relaxing!

I didn’t have laundry to do, children to watch, assignments to grade, or meals to make. The only decision I had to make was where we should eat! 🙂

When we got to our stops – I got to sit in the suburban in the sunshine and read while he took care of the business parts of the trip.

The sweetest part of all was the fact that he got paid to be with me!

The kids stayed home by themselves and did just fine. The laundry was done, bread made, meals eaten, and the house was still standing. I didn’t ask how many hours of TV were watched or computer games played. I really don’t want to know.

I’ll need to scramble a bit today to make up for my mini-vacation yesterday – but it was so worth it.

There’s a smile on my face and a light in my eyes this morning.

I’m feeling pretty blessed.

World’s Greatest Peanut Butter Cookies

World's Best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip CookiesThis recipe has some history!

I originally got it from my oldest sister Becky, who got it from a friend. I made them often for my adorable nephews when I lived with them my last semester of college.

I took the recipe with me when I moved into my first apartment and would take them to school to treat my students.

They were my “never-fail- go-to cookies”.

So – of course – it was these cookies that I made for a certain good-looking blond guy in the singles group that I wanted to impress.

And of course – they failed. Miserably. (To this day I wonder what – in my twitter-pated state – I left out when I made them!)

Would you believe that he ate them anyway and declared them them to be the best cookies ever.

Of course I married him – and the cookies have never failed since! 🙂

World’s Greatest Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar (firmly packed)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 ounces chocolate chips

Cream together the margarine, peanut butter, white sugar and brown sugar.

Add the flour and baking soda.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop by teaspoonful on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees for about 10-12 minutes.

Note that these cookies don’t have eggs! That means you can eat as much dough as you would like with no worries – I know we do!

Some day I might just mix up the dough and not bake it – just leave it in the fridge and eat it!

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post up with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed With Grace, Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, and Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff.

It Must be Spring…

It Must be SpringIt must be spring in the Midwest.

One day we’re hanging laundry outside in short sleeves with the windows open.

The daffodils are poking out of the ground and the rhubarb is up.

The next day there’s that nasty white stuff in the forecast.

You know the stuff I mean – it starts with an s and rhymes with “at least we won’t have to mow!”

It’s the word that brings great excitement and celebration in the fall – but feels like a slap in the face at the end of March.

I really can’t complain though – our neighbors to the north have had it much, much worse. One friend in Minnesota said she has never been so excited to see dead grass because it meant the snow was finally gone.

She spoke to soon – they had another 7 inches overnight.

The only good thing about a spring snow is that it won’t last long.

The flowers know it – they’re blooming anyway.

The robins know it – they keep building their nests.

Even Wal-Mart knows it – they have their swimsuits and flip flops on display!

I guess we all know how very fickle March can be!

Today the furnace is running – but soon the windows will be open again.

We’ll be able to pack the winter coats and stocking caps away and the kids will be digging out their t-shirts and sunscreen!

Meanwhile, we’ll just brush the snow off the Easter Bunny and be thankful that April is only a week away!

Photo by Anne Burgess

God of Wonder

God of WondersWe had some massive storms roll through the state last night – tornadoes warnings, hail, strong winds, heavy rains.

With three of my kids at Teen Pact Camp in Des Moines – this momma bear was relieved when one of the coordinators posted this on Facebook:

“I just got back from the Teen Pact Camp. There was a tornado warming so we all went into this ‘cozy’ (that was the word we agreed on) basement. I must say, if being in a basement can be epic, this totally was. We did a bunch of singing. Let me tell ya, ‘God of Wonders’ takes on a whole new meaning when there’s lightning, hail and wind outside!”

Thank you Josh.

I had to smile. I knew exactly what he meant.

Years ago – when I was in youth group – we were on the church bus on a very hot and humid July night traveling home from an activity.

The air was so still it was suffocating.

There was lightning off in the distance.

We watched the storm get closer and closer – until the sky got dark and our church bus full of kids was in the middle of the rain, wind, and lightning.

It was a little scary.

Then someone started to sing the scripture song from Isaiah 41:10:

“Fear thou not, for I am with thee,
be not afraid, for I’m thy God.
I will strengthen you, yea I will help you,
yea I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.”

We all joined in. Song after song flowed out of that bus on that dark stormy night.

Singing “How Great Thou Art” while the lightning cracks above you and you can feel His power in the wind and rain is an incredible experience.

That impromptu acapella worship service in the church bus on a country road in rural Iowa surrounded by the raging storm remains one of the most meaningful ones in my life.

God of wonder indeed.

Surprise Meringues

Surprise MeringuesSpring on the farm usually means eggs – lots of eggs.

But my chickens have reached the age of retirement (either that or they are still on strike for better working conditions!) and slowed down their egg production drastically.  I’m thankful that our friend Martha has kept us well supplied.

It just wouldn’t be spring without homemade angel food cake, lots of puddings and custards, and of course – meringues!

Since Dagmar is gone for the week at Teen Pact Iowa – I spent some time this morning perusing her new Taste of Home Cookbook. (Shhh! Please don’t tell!)

While I absolutely love my go-to chocolate meringue recipe – I found a new one that sounded promising.

I made one recipe and divided it in half so I could try two variations. The first with chocolate chips and nuts, the second with a hidden chocolate kiss.

Oh my! Both were wonderful!

Surprise Meringues

3 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Place egg whites in a large bowl and let stand for 30 minutes. Add vanilla, cream of tartar and salt; beat on medium high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at at time until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved, about 6 minutes.

Fold in chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 250 degrees for 40 – 45 minutes or until firm to the touch. Turn oven off; leave meringues in the oven for 1 – 1/2 hours. Remove to wire racks. Store in an airtight container.

Variation : Meringue Kisses – Omit the chocolate chips and walnuts. Drop the meringues by tablespoonful on parchment lined baking sheets. Press a chocolate kiss into the center of each one and cover with meringue. Bake at 375degress for 30-35 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove immediately to a wire rack.

The original recipe said they would make 4 dozen cookies – but I just made mine bigger and got 2 dozen.

They were still only 57 calories a cookie! 🙂

Now that’s a guilt free cookie!

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post up with Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tuesdays at the Table at All the Small Stuff and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace.