Monthly Archives: February 2012

Super Easy Black Bean Soup

SoupLunch can be interesting around here.

While some of my kids could subsist quite happily on mac and cheese and hot dogs for days on end, there are those of us who wish to be more adventurous and a lot less processed.

So we’ve been using the noon hour to experiment a little.

In the process we’ve discovered that we love roasted veggie sandwiches, hummus of all kinds and anything with pesto.

This week’s adventure in the culinary world was a winner that I had to share – a super easy black bean soup.  Would you believe it has just four ingredients?!

It went together in minutes, was really cheap to make and it tasted great!

Black Bean Soup

4 cups black beans, cooked (2 cans)
2 cups broth (chicken, vegetable or beef)
1 cup salsa
1 teaspoon cumin

Place half of the beans in a blender. Add the broth, salsa and cumin. Process till smooth.

Pour into a saucepan and add the rest of the beans.

Heat through.

That’s it! I told you it was easy.

Serve it with any combination of sour cream, tortilla chips and cheddar cheese.

I think it would be yummy served over a bowl of rice or with a grilled cheese sandwich. We paired it with a piece of fresh, hot homemade Indian Naan – which made the perfect dipper!

I used a mild salsa to satisfy the majority of eaters – but added a healthy dash of cayenne in my bowl to spice it up a little.


I’ve linked this post up with Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Another Season Begins

SeedsIt’s official – Gardening Season 2012 has begun!

After several days of dreaming over our favorite seed catalogs – we finally made the first seed purchase of the 2012 season.

But it was not without drama.

The tomatoes were easy – my 2 favorite heirlooms, Amish Paste and Rutgers, plus a new one this year – the Jersey Giant.

We even found the spaghetti squash we wanted and the elusive ghost pepper – thought to be the hottest pepper in the world. (I don’t know if the hottest – but it is rare – we could only buy 10 seeds. I hope they grow.)

The drama came when I typed in our all-time favorite – as in we can’t live without it – this is the entire reason we garden –  jalapeno – the amazing Tam Jalapeno.

They were out of stock.

My heart stopped. I’m sure the world ceased revolving for a few minutes (surely you felt it?!)

What? No Tam Jalapeno?

I panicked. Dagmar cried. Angel Girl went white. This was a national emergency. Jan immediately started looking through our other seed catalogs. Nothing.

We were a house in mourning.

No Tam Jalapenos.

This was major. Almost every night while they are in season we make a huge pan of poppers for supper. Seriously. We are addicted to them! I buy cream cheese by the case just for poppers. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about them.

Out of stock. Unbelievable.

The dark cloud hung over the entire household until Sunday when my friend Martha suggested checking eBay or Amazon for the seeds.

Brilliant! Why didn’t we think of that?!

Jan found the seeds on Amazon and quickly bought a hundred of the wonder seeds.

A hundred! Just think of all those plants! Jan will have to plow up another garden spot just to make room for them all!

Such joy!

God bless Martha.

The entire garden season is saved.

Such drama and we’ve only ordered the seeds! It’s gonna be a great season!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Birthday Pie

Option 2Somebody had a birthday last week!

Yep. I’m a whole year older – and I’m sure much wiser. Ha!

For years we’ve celebrated my birthday with a decadent chocolate cheese cake pie that I painstakingly copied from a Debbie Fields cooking show on PBS.

But this year it was time for a change. After all – at my age – it could be dangerous to get in a rut! 😉

So Dagmar and I started brainstorming. We started with an Oreo cookie crust and topped it with a super rich chocolate filling. Then in  a burst of genius, she covered the entire thing with a delicious peanut butter whipped cream. (And I do mean delicious! Trust me – that stuff is crazy good!)

<happy sigh>

It was delectable! Perfection on a plate.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

1-1/2 cups finely crushed Oreo cookies
3 Tablespoons melted butter
2 cups dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tub whipped topping
1/2 cup peanut butter

In a mixing bowl, combine the Oreo cookie crumbs and the butter. Press into a 9 inch pie pan and refrigerate while you make the filling.

Place dark chocolate chips and half & half in a double broiler and melt. When melted and smooth, stir in the vanilla.

Carefully pour over the Oreo cookie crust and refrigerate until set.

Before serving, combine the peanut butter and softened whipped topping. Spread it over the cooled filling and top with shaved chocolate.

Hide any left-overs in the back of the refrigerator and just hope that you can get to them before your children!


I’ve linked this post with Tasty Tuesday on Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace.

It Sure Tastes Sweet

I wish you could smell my house right now!

Sugar Cookies
Row after row of cookies are cooling on the table – sugar cookies, monster cookies and giant gingersnaps.
Ginger snapsAnd then there’s the muffins! Dozens of them – all waiting to be packaged and delivered.

Why the baking frenzy?

Dagmar got a huge order for baked goods that need to be delivered to an open house tomorrow.
MuffinsShe decided on her recipes, figured out what she needed for ingredients, did the shopping herself and spent all day in the kitchen.

And everything looks and smells wonderful!

What was my role in this venture? Mentor, quality control, chief taste tester and proud momma.

I never saw this coming years ago when she was sitting on the counter beside me licking the spatula!

It sure tastes sweet.

Love is a Verb

Here’s the third installment of our blog series called “Taking Your Marriage from Good to Great. We’ve already talked about Date Nights and how to use the little things in a marriage to bind your hearts together. Today’s post is a reality check!

Love is a verbIf you’ve read the last two posts in this series, you may have gotten the impression that things are a bit perfect around here. That everything is smiles and hugs and kisses and mutually edifying.

I am about to burst your bubble.

The truth is – sometimes Jan makes me so mad I could spit nails!

Are you shocked? Wait – there’s more!

Sometimes my actions really exasperate him!

Now I know your shocked! 🙂

In all seriousness – there is no perfect here.  But there is sickness, tight budgets, cars that break down, long work hours, slow internet, broken appliances, (all of which happened last week!)  and of course teenagers.

Any or all of those things can cause misunderstandings, unrealistic expectations, and hurt feelings.

Notice I said can cause. But they don’t have to. We have a choice.

It’s easy to love each other when everything is good and you feel like it – when your spouse is spending time with you, the fridge is full, the kids are obedient, and the stove works.

But love isn’t a feeling – it’s a verb. It’s an action that must be taken, even when misunderstandings happen and feelings are hurt.

Years ago as a young wife with little ones at home, my world would stop for 15 minutes every morning at 9 AM when the program “Gateway to Joy” came on the local Christian radio station. It was hosted by Elizabeth Elliot, the wife of slain missionary Jim Elliot, and served up truth in a way that shaped my life.

I can still hear her say, ” You are loved with an everlasting love, that’s what the Bible says, and underneath are the everlasting arms. This is your friend Elizabeth Elliot…”

Which would be followed by 15 minutes of incredible wisdom that can only come after one has been through the fire and spent years in the Word seeking God’s face.

One particular program changed my marriage.

She gave two bits of advise for married couple.

1. Aim for unity in all conversations.

2. Aim for the good of the other.

Think about it.

So simple, yet so profound. And so very true.

Notice the theme that ties them together? They are both actions that you must take. “Aim for unity” and “aim for the good”.

You can’t rely on your feelings – you choose an action to take. You choose to love. You choose to stop thinking about your self and what you need or want, and you choose to think about your spouse’s needs and wants.

I copied those two bits of advise on a 3 x 5 card and taped it to my refrigerator – where it stayed for many many years. That card is now stained and yellowed – the writing so faded it is barely readable. But the words are etched in my heart.

Aim for“.

Make the choice.

Choose to love.