Monthly Archives: February 2013

Saturday Date Night

It was a Facebook post Saturday morning that started the adventure.

Some friends are building a home in northern Missouri and had discovered a little country church nearby. They were having a Sweetheart Dinner that night – would we like to come?

Lured by the thoughts of prime rib with all the fixings, followed by an evening of gospel music – it was an easy sell.

Jan and I drove the winding country roads of southern Iowa into the alphabetical maze of back roads the makes up northern Missouri as the sun was setting over beautiful snow covered fields.

It was so peaceful.

We found the church nestled in the hills surrounded by rolling pastures, just as it had been for the last 150 years.

This faithful congregation had been serving up a free prime rib meal and gospel music to the community every February for more than a decade.

They greeted us warmly – wayfaring strangers that we were. The conversation was lively. The company fun.

And the food! Oh my! The food was abundant, delicious, and homemade – a hunk of prime rib that covered half my plate, potatoes, salad, crescent rolls, green beans and bacon, and a table full of desserts.

Then the music began.

It was nothing professional – just some friends who played really well. A man on the banjo with his eighty something year old momma on the bass and his buddy on the guitar.

Joking. Laughing. Strumming. Singing.

It was comfortable – like being invited into someone’s living room for some music.

Gospel songs. Mountain melodies. Old Hymns.

The melodies rang out of the old church on the frosty February night.

And we were a part of it.

When the music ended – we reluctantly said our good-byes and started the 45 minute drive home, navigating those same winding roads under the light of  full moon.

The snow sparkled as we held hands, the music still ringing in our ears.

And my heart smiled.

Pizza Soup

SoupaWith yet another snow storm expected tonight – I guess winter isn’t quite done with us yet!

There’s still time to put  some hearty and warming soup on the menu.

One of our favorites is this very easy pizza soup.

Just a few ingredients to stir together and heat up, either on the stove top or in the crock pot.

It’s warm, satisfying, and really yummy.

We love it with a green salad, fresh rolls, Italian bread sticks, or even grilled cheese sandwiches.

Pizza Soup

1 pound ground beef or sausage
2 cans (26 ounces each) condensed tomato soup
6-1/2 cup water
1 jar (28 ounce) spaghetti sauce (I use one quart of homemade)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1- 16 ounce bag rotini noodles
2 cups cheddar cheese

Brown the ground beef or sausage. Drain the grease.  Add to soup kettle or Dutch oven with the tomato soup, water, spaghetti sauce, and Italian seasoning.

Bring to boil. Add the package of rotini noodles. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until tender, about 15 minutes,  stirring often.

Stir in the cheddar cheese.

Serve warm with additional cheese to garnish.

You can make this soup in the crock pot – just add the browned meat, tomato soup, water, spaghetti sauce and Italian seasonings to the crock pot. Cook on high for three hours. Then you can either add the noodles and cook for another 30 minutes, or just cook the noodles on the stove and stir them in just before serving.

To spice things up – add some pepperoni, a can of mushrooms, or some  Canadian bacon pieces. Or throw some diced onion and green pepper into the meat while it’s browning.

Need it gluten free? Use your favorite gluten free pasta or omit it altogether and add extra meat or veggies.

It’s as flexible and versatile as pizza!


Slide Show

Can you believe that my children had no idea what a slide show was?

They had no idea the excitement and anticipation that pulling out the movie screen evoked.
movie screen

In today’s digital world, where pictures are an everyday occurrence, they can snap a photo and have it on Facebook for all to see in three short clicks.

So different from my era when a photograph was something special and a family slide show was the highlight of the month, or year.

They had no idea what a slide projector was.

slide projector Or how it worked.

How it took us back in time giving us a glimpse of who were and where we had come from.

Bringing back memories.

Turning our regular living room into a place of wonder.

slide showThey had no idea the hoots of laughter that erupted when a slide was put in  upside down.

Or the way we would talk over each other as everyone rushed to share their memories – or defend them!

Nope. My children had no idea.

So we showed them.

And discovered that even in this high tech world, with all the hand held devices and social media, there’s still magic in the simplicity of a slideshow.

Valentine Banquet

Part of last week’s busyness included taking this crazy crew of kids…youth group…and pulling off a Valentine’s banquet for the entire church.

The kids did everything!

They set up the tables…

Valentine tablescape

…using wedding pictures to decorate – as well as candles, streamers, M&M’s and conversation hearts.


They did the cooking.

kitvchen crew

And with my own Dagmar (in the black apron) in charge of the kitchen, everything ran smoothly.

Or – close enough.

And serving.

servingWhich also went surprising well. (Oh yes – that is a tuxedo! Only the best for our guests!)

Then – following the delicious three course meal – the kids provided some world class entertainment!

Valentine skitsWell – okay – it was actually a series of skits that the kids wrote full of inside jokes and some wigs that left the audience in stitches. (That’s my Pedro in the center!)

And when our guests – of all ages – left, the kids cleaned up.

I was so proud of how hard those kids worked and what a good job they did!

And I’m tired.

Very tired.

Working with teenagers is not for the faint of heart!

Chocolate Birthday Pie

chocolate birthday pieSomehow, adding another birthday candle ceased to be exciting sometime in my 30’s – which was several years ago!

So when I celebrated another birthday last Friday, I choose to concentrate less on the number of candles, and more on my favorite things.

Things like quilting, reading, and of course chocolate (which I had at every meal!)

And since cake doesn’t make my favorite list, and chocolate pie does – I created a yummy chocolate pie to celebrate.

I started with an Oreo cookie crust, added a layer of dark chocolate and topped it off with chocolate whipped cream.

When Pedro saw it he declared it was “chocolate, on top of chocolate, on top of chocolate”!


Chocolate Birthday Pie

14 Oreo cookies, crushed
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup half & half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
splash of vanilla

Combine the crushed Oreo cookies and melted butter and press into a 9 inch pie pan. Refrigerate.

In a double boiler, melt the dark chocolate chips and half & half. When melted and smooth, add the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Pour into the crust and refrigerate.

Just before serving, combine the whipping cream, cocoa powder, sugar and a dash of vanilla in a cold mixing bowl.

Beat at high speed with electric mixer until the cream is whipped and thick. Spread it on top of the chocolate layer and take your time licking the bowl!

Rich, decadent, chocolate upon chocolate goodness – now that’s the perfect birthday pie!