Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Poppy Seed Muffins

A few days ago a friend asked me if I had a good poppy seed muffin recipe, so I sent her my two favorite-a regular poppy seed with almond flavoring and a lemon poppy seed muffin. I decided to share them here with you. They would make great Christmas Morning Breakfast Treats. Enjoy!!

Blessings! You are Prayed for and Loved!
"For I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness." Psalm 26:3

Poppy Seed Muffins

3 eggs
2 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/8 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 teaspoons butter, melted

1. Beat together the eggs, 2 1/2 cups white sugar and vegetable oil. Add in milk, salt, baking powder, poppy seeds, vanilla, almond flavoring, and flour. Mix well.
2. Bake in paper lined muffin cups (filled 3/4 full or 3 small greased loaf pans) at 350 degrees F for 12-18 minutes for muffins and 50-60 minutes for loaves. The tops should be browned and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
3. Remove muffins as soon as you can while still warm/hot and dunk tops into glaze. Turn right side up and cool on a cookie rack. With loaves just pour the glaze evenly over the three loaves while still in pans. Let cool to a warm temp. and remove from pans. Messy-but good!!!
4. To Make Glaze: In a saucepan over low heat, combine 3/4 cup sugar, orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring and 2 teaspoons melted butter. Warm in pan until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over loaf pans or dunk muffin tops into glaze when cooled to room temperature. (Omit the glaze altogether if you don't like the mess.)
5. Makes 12 Jumbo or 24 regular size muffins.
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Serves: 12 muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus up to 1 tablespoon for topping the muffins, if desired
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 teaspoons poppy seeds
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a muffin tin with Pam or line with liners.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
With your mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter, zest, and 2/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Stir in the poppy seeds.
Fold the flour in 3 parts into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk in 2 parts, until just combined. Do not to overmix the batter. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tin and sprinkle the tops with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool muffins in the pan on a rack. Serve warm.

**** Be sure and store your poppy seeds in the refrigerator or freezer so they don't go rancid!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Peanut Butter Crumb Apple Pie

Are you looking for an alternative to the Traditional Pumpkin and Pecan Pies served at Thanksgiving. Do you want the pie to be super easy to make?? Well, then this Peanut Butter Crumb Apple Pie is the Pie for You! This Pie is BEYOND Delicious!! It was inhaled in a matter of minutes at a party that I took it to last weekend. Because it uses shortcuts in baking, it can be made quickly and with little effort or skill.

Have a Truly Blessed Thanksgiving.

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name."
Psalm 100:4
Peanut Butter Crumb Apple Pie
1 can (21 ounces) apple pie filling
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 pastry shell (9 inches), baked
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 to 3 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
2 tablespoons cold butter

In a small bowl, combine the pie filling and lemon juice; spoon into pastry shell.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, lemon peel, cinnamon and nutmeg; cut in peanut butter and butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over filling.
Bake at 400° for 20-22 minutes or until topping is lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 6-8 servings.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Oatmeal Craisin White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I made these yummy cookies this weekend for a church party and they were a HUGE success. They would make a nice appetizer/treat for your Thanksgiving festivities :). Sorry that there isn't a picture-they were eaten too quickly for that :).

Happy Thanksgiving my Friends! God's Love and Blessings in our Lives give us SO MUCH to be thankful for! May you be surrounded by the love of family and friends this week as you Praise God for His abundance in your life!

I Chronicles 16:34
"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever."
Oatmeal Craisin White Chocolate Chip Cookies
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (6 ounce) package Craisins (Sweetened, Dried Cranberries)
2/3 cup white chocolate chunks or chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Using an electric mixer, beat butter or margarine and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, mixing well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in craisins and white chocolate chips chunks. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mocha Chocolate Cheesecake and My Hubby's Special Birthday!

Today, I am so Blessed to Be Celebrating a Very Special Day-My Dear Husband's Birthday!! He is such an incredible blessing in my life and I fall deeper in love with him every day. Today, he turns 40!!! So here are 40 reasons why he is so Amazing. Following the list, you will find the recipe to the Mocha Chocolate Cheesecake that I made for his special day.

Enjoy! You are Prayed for and Dearly Loved!

40 Reasons why my Hubby is the Best:

1. He loves God with his whole heart

2. He loves our family and shows us that love daily.

3. He is full of integrity.

4. He is full of Faith and encourages me to trust God when times are tough.

5. He is Handsome.

6. He has Beautiful Eyes.

7. He makes me Laugh.

8. He is passionate about His Sports teams.

9. He takes me to the Vera Store everytime we go to San Antonio.

10. He is a Fantastic Dad.

11. He is a committed worker.

12. He is so intelligent!

13. He is an AMAZING Bible Study/ Sunday School Class Teacher.

14. He is worthy of respect.

15. He is Giving.

16. He is humble.

17. He is kind to others.

18. He sacrifices so much for our family.

19. He watches the Hallmark Channel Movies and Gilmore Girls with me.

20. He expresses love freely.

21. He makes time to play with our son.

22. He is honest.

23. He is trustworthy.

24. He is a source of strength to me.

25. He loves my baking.

26. He never complains.

27. He helps others.

28. He prays for people.

29. He rubs my feet.

30. He pursues a growing relationship with God.

31. He is so so silly.

32. He is an incredible dancer ;-).

33. He puts gas in my car.

34. He holds my hand.

35. He is so fun to just "be" with.

36. He "understands" me.

37. He still loves me...see above.

38. He is patient.

39. He is Handsome-oh, so Handsome!!!

40. He is my Beloved and I am His!!!

I LOVE YOU Googly Bear!!

Mocha Chocolate Cheesecake
1-1/2 cups cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookie crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted

2 tablespoons plus 1-1/2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
1 tablespoon boiling water
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
Chocolate-covered Espresso or Coffee beans

Place pan on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil (about 16 in. square). Securely wrap foil around pan.

Combine cookie crumbs and butter; press onto the bottom of a greased 9-in. springform pan. In a small bowl, combine the coffee granules, water and cinnamon; set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, flour and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined.
Divide batter in half. Stir melted chocolate into one portion; pour over crust. Stir coffee mixture into the remaining batter; spoon over chocolate layer. Place springform pan in a large baking pan; add 1 in. of hot water to larger pan.
Bake at 325° for 55-60 minutes or until center is just set and top appears dull. Remove springform pan from water bath. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and butter; stir until smooth. Spread over cheesecake. Garnish with coffee beans if desired. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 16 servings.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pumpkin, Spice, and Everything Nice Muffins

Occasionally, I find cake mixes on sale for less that 50 cents a box. When this happens, I stock up on Spice Cake Mix specifically for this easy Autumn muffin recipe. The original recipe calls for raisins, but I prefer putting either sweetened cranberries or chocolate chips instead. This recipe produces a moist, delish, and satisfying cake-like muffin. I am taking a batch to Sunday School tomorrow. Enjoy my friends.

God has been teaching me a lot this week with regard to worry and fear. This passage has encouraged my heart, and I hope it does the same for you. You are prayed for and loved dearly!!

Philippians 4:6 (The Message)
6-7Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Pumpkin Spice, and Everything Nice Muffins

1 pkg. (18.25 oz) spice or carrot cake mix
1 can (15 oz) Libbys 100% Pure Pumpkin
2 large eggs
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup cranberries or chocolate chips or raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or paper-line 24 muffin cups. Combine cake mix, pumpkin, eggs, and water in large mixer bowl until moistened. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds; scrape bowl. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in cranberries (or chips or raisins). Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store muffins in covered container. Makes 2 dozen standard sized muffins.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Quilt Raffle

Queen Size Quilt Raffle

All Proceeds go toward Emma's Adoption.

*Drawing to be held December 19, 2010*

Tickets: $5.00 each

If you would like a chance to win this Beautiful Quilt, then send me an email at and I can mail you the tickets. The quilt can be shipped anywhere if you win. Thank you so very much for helping us bring our Russian Princess Home! You can follow our Adoption Story at:
and you can find other ways to support the adoption at:
God Bless each of You!!!!!
"I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you."
John 14:18

Praying her home,
Darin, Christina and Jaythan

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Heaven Day Savannah Grace!!!

"The Lord's loved ones are precious to him; it grieves him when they die." Psalm 116:15
Two years ago today, our sweet baby girl began dancing with Jesus in heaven. I cannot believe that two years have passed since I held her in my arms. Maybe that is because I carry her in my heart every second of every day. People often told me after she died that the pain would go away. I disagree. The ache is still there and I don't think it will ever be absent from my heart. The pain may express itself in less evident ways on certain days than others, but the pain is still there. I loved my daughter deeply and I always will. I love the idea that grief is an expression of love. You wouldn't grieve if you didn't love.

Today, my mind is filled with so much Gratitude.
Gratitude that God chose me to be Savannah's Mom.
Gratitude that Savannah's life revealed His Glory and Majesty.

Psalm 111: 3-4
"Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty, His righteousness never fails. Who can forget the wonders he performs? How gracious and merciful is our Lord!"

During my pregnancy, many people told me that Savannah taught them so much about complete faith, surrendering to God, praying without ceasing, and loving more fully. I, myself, never fully grasped the depths of God's love for me until He used Savannah's life and my deep love for her to show me how He loves me on an even deeper level and with a passionate father/daughter agape!

I am currently doing a Women's Bible Study at my church on Revelation by Beth Moore. I am amazed at how God is using the book of Revelation (which I was always afraid to read because it seemed to hard to understand) to speak to my heart two years after Savannah's death and continue the healing process in my spirit. Just yesterday in class, Beth spoke on Revelation 11 regarding the two witnesses who would come to testify about Christ in the end times. She dwelt on verse 7 which says, "When they complete their testimony...the beast will conquer them and kill them." She stressed that no one, no child of God, will be taken from this earth a moment before they have served their purpose, completed their work, finished their race in this world. Each of us has a specific God-Given Purpose. This revelation touched my heart because it made me realize that Savannah served her purpose. She made the heart of God so very happy. She finished her race, she fought her fight. She taught so many people how to love deeper. She taught me how to trust God more completely. She taught me that God will never leave me or forsake me even when my world is falling apart, when my daughter is sick and dies, when my heart aches so much it feels like it will break. She taught me that God never left my side, dancing over me in love, even when I could not utter a prayer for a month after she died. My beautiful daughter, Savannah, served her purpose by drawing me into a deeper, richer, relationship with God, a relationship where I have learned to surrender all.

Earlier this October, I had days where I would find myself crying for no apparent reason. It was almost as if my heart was crying out for my baby girl without my even thinking about it. The tears would just pour down my face. It was during this time, that Beth Moore was covering Revelation 7, and she reiterated that our grief and tears and sufferings are only temporary. Revelation 7:17 says, "For the Lamb who stands in front of the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to the springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe away all their tears." ALL.THEIR.TEARS!!!! My longing for Heaven continues to grow as I study God's word regarding our eternal worshipping and "being" with Jesus. I will have no reason to grieve. Savannah now has no reason to grieve. She has no pain. She has no abnormality. She is whole. Beautiful. Rejoicing. Laughing. Playing. Loving. Now, that is what brings me peace today in the midst of my sorrow that I do not have a two year old brown-haired, blue-eyed girl running around chasing her big brother. Rather, she gets to run around Heaven, chasing Jesus, singing Praises, laughing as Butterflies tickle her nose. Heaven is a very real place, my dear friends. God longs for you to spend eternity with Him! If you haven't made the choice to accept Him into your heart, to receive His vast love for you, then please consider it now. He longs to be in a relationship with you. He adores you. As high as the heavens are from the earth, so great is His love for you! If you have any questions about His Amazing Love, then email me. I would love to share with you about the God who truly does make something Beautiful out of our pain and sorrow. My prayer for you is that:
Ephesians 3:14-19
"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
On her birthday today, I wanted to share with you all Savannah's Celebration Service Video:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Cookies & Cream Cupcakes

This week I had a special order for Cookies and Cream Cupcakes. After researching and experimenting, this is what I came up with. I used my favorite frosting recipe-Wilton's basic white, and topped the cupcakes with cookies and cream sprinkles and mini oreos. This recipe was a huge success. It was declared DELISH by my taste-tasters (both old and young). ENJOY!!
You are Prayed for and Loved Dearly by your Heavenly Father!

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
(Adapted from Paula Deen Best Dessert Special Collector’s Issue)

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
12-16 coarsely crushed cream-filled chocolate wafer cookies (Oreos)
White Frosting (see below)
Garnish: mini oreos and cookies and cream sprinkles(I buy the Wilton brand cookies and cream sprinkles but you could also use finely crushed oreos)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with cupcake liners.
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed with a mixer until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add to butter mixture, alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Stir in crushed cookies. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks. Pipe or decorate with white frosting. Garnish with mini oreos and cookies & cream sprinkles (or crushed oreos).
(Yield: 3 cups-enough to frost 24 cupcakes)
1/2 teaspoon Clear Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
4 tablespoons water
1 cup solid vegetable shortening (Crisco)-
I use the Crisco Sticks (1 stick per recipe)
1 lb. sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 4 cups)
Sift confectioners' sugar in a large mixing bowl. Set aside. Cream shortening, flavorings, and water. Gradually add sifted dry ingredients and mix on medium speed with your mixer until all ingredients have been thoroughly mixed together Blend an additional minute or so, until creamy. Fill a Decorators Bag with the icing and fit with whatever tip you like to decorate. Pipe Frosting onto tops of cupcakes in pretty patterns or designs.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

My Banana Bread is probably one of my most requested recipes. I love making it because it is such an easy recipe that turns out fabulous. Today, I got extra creative with my recipe and the result was a bread that taste like a combination of a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup and Banana Bread. Sounds Fabulous, Right??? You will not be disappointed. Your kiddos will love it. Slather some peanut butter on top and you have a great protein-packed breakfast or after-school snack. Big Kiddos will love it too :)! Enjoy!

You are Prayed for and Loved!

Psalm 84:5-7

"What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings. They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God."

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Bread


3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/3 cup peanut butter

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup (2 medium) mashed ripe bananas

3 tablespoons milk

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)


Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan. Stir together the melted butter, peanut butter, sugar, and eggs. Blend in the bananas and milk. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the banana mixture; stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped nuts. Spoon the batter into the pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack. This bread tastes delicious served warm slathered with peanut butter, but it also tastes great cooled.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Adoption Fundraisers

We are super excited and super blessed to have Elizabeth Englehardt helping us raise money for our adoption costs.

Elizabeth has become a dear friend of our over the past two years. We were first put in contact with her when we were pregnant with Savannah and she made Savannah's birth announcements. You can see just how beautiful and special they were by clicking here:

Elizabeth has so kindly offered to give all proceeds of orders that you place directly to us for our adoption. She does amazing work-thank you cards, baby books, birthday invitations, baby announcements, scrapbook pages, bookmarks, postcards, etc... Every order is custom made and she will make them exactly the way you would like them. So, hop over to her website and take a look. If you decide to place an order then please put "Emma Burrell" in your order notes. And, while you are there, take a moment to pray for her sweet family that God's love will be poured out in abundance on them as they seek to serve and help others.

Elizabeth's button is on the corner of this just click it and you will be taken directly to her website. If you have any questions then just email me at .
If you would like to keep updated with our Adoption Journey, then add Emma's Blog to your favorites:
You can help support our adoption costs by purchasing coffee at
I don't think I could fully express how deeply I love this little girl whom I have never met. God has written His love in my heart for her already. How I long for the day when I can hold Emma in my arms, watch my hubby dance with our daughter, and laugh together as Jaythan plays with her.
Much Love and Blessings!

Praying her home, Darin, Christina and Jaythan

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Waffles

I love all things Pumpkin, especially in the Fall. So, the other night I made some super healthy whole wheat pumpkin waffles, and I decided to throw in a few mini chocolate chips. The result was delicious and hearty! I was hesitant to serve them to our three year old, but he loved them, much to my surprise and pleasure. We eat breakfast for dinner a lot so feel free to serve these whenever you like. You could even make a huge batch and freeze them in individual ziploc bags to eat for breakfast throughout the week. Just take them out of the freezer in the morning, put them on a plate and microwave them for 30 seconds. ENJOY!

Take some time this Autumn to thank God for the Fall Leaves, the Crisp Air, His Provision, and the continual Blessing of His Presence and His Great Love for you.

Slow down and really "TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD!" Psalm 34:8

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Waffles

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 pinch salt
2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup canned pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 2/3 cups milk
1/4-1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients to make the waffle batter. Generously spray all sides of your waffle iron. Pour the batter on the greased waffle iron. Cook until steam stops escaping from the waffle iron. Serve warm with maple syrup.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Autumn in my Heart, my Home, and my Kitchen

Joel 2:23
"Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before."

The following blog post is a repost from last year, but the same feelings are in my heart, the same decorations in my home, and the same yummy dishes in my kitchen. I LOVE all things Pumpkin. In fact, I really want to take a trip to IHOP to have some Pumpkin Pancakes. My mom texted me this morning that she was enjoying some at her IHOP in NC, and I was super jealous.

As for other Autumn (specifically Pumpkin) Goodies...
If you are in the mood for some yummy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, then just visit here:

If you are a Pumpkin Fan, then you have to try my Granny's Pumpkin Cake:

Or if you prefer a Pumpkin Cheesecake then click here:

Or maybe you would like to try some yummy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies:

If you are in need of the Perfect Pumpkin Pie Recipe or perhaps some Healthy Pumpkin Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, then click here:

Or my personal favorite...Pumpkin Angel Food Cake with Maple Whipped Cream Topping!

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.” ~Stanley Horowitz

I LOVE Autumn. It makes me smile; it makes my heart smile; it even makes me do Jaythan’s happy dance. I am a Southern Girl who lived the first 20 years of my life in North Carolina where Seasons exist, and the leaves turn amazingly beautiful reds, yellows, oranges, and plums every September lasting until late November. I am convinced that the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC is a glimpse of Heaven on Earth given to us by God to make our hearts happy.

Unfortunately, where we live in far South Texas (Northern Mexico ;-)), seasons do not exist. It has been 100 + degrees here for what seems like forever. There are usually only 2-3 days per year that are “sweater worthy”. Oh, and did I mention that the only trees that we have are Palm trees? Thus, no reds, yellows, oranges, and plums to make my heart happy. But, alas, I have gotten used to the nonexistence of Autumn, and have decided that Autumn can live in my heart, my home, and my kitchen.

Even though it is only the beginning of September, I have already begun to decorate my home for the season.

In my heart, I can decide daily to allow God’s warmth and presence to fill every part of my being. I can make time to spend playing in the park with Jaythan, taking walks with my hubby, and laughing over a cup of tea with my friends and family.

As for my kitchen, Autumn automatically makes me think of apples, Hot Chocolate, Pumpkin Pie, fresh breads, mouth-watering soups, and a Kitchen that smells like cinnamon and nutmeg. How could one not love the season that contains Thanksgiving, State Fairs, Hay Rides, and Caramel Apples? Or, not to mention, my birthday ;-)! So many reasons to celebrate :-)! Thus, I am going to start posting recipes over the next 2 months that make me think of Autumn-recipes that will fill your home and your tummies with satisfying warmth. So, invite your friends or family over, make some of these yummy goodies and enjoy Autumn to the fullest! Today’s recipe is a personal creation that I entered into a cookie contest when we lived in Fort Worth. They contain all the ingredients of Fall-caramel, apples, and cinnamon; and they taste like a caramel apple explosion in your mouth. Enjoy!

Be Blessed and Love Lavishly!
Christina B

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn. ~Elizabeth Lawrence

Caramel Apple-Cinnamon Bars

1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
¼ cup shortening
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
4 ½ cups coarsely chopped peeled tart apples (3 medium)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
1 bag (14 ounces) caramels)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Mix the brown sugar, butter, and shortening in a large bowl. Stir in 1 ¾ cups flour, the oats, salt, and baking soda. Reserve 2 cups of the oat mixture. Press the remaining oat mixture in an ungreased 13x9 inch pan.
Toss apples, 1 tablespoon cinnamon sugar, and 3 tablespoons flour and spread over the mixture in the pan. Heat the caramels over low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted; pour evenly over the apples. Sprinkle with the reserved oat mixture, pressing lightly.
Bake the bars 25-30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender.
Cut the bars into squares while they are still warm. Store covered in the refrigerator.
Makes 36 bars.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lemon-Kissed Blueberry Bread

Today has been a beautiful rainy day, and I have spent my time playing Leap Frog Zippity Games, sewing custom aprons to sell for the adoption, baking my orders for the coffee shop and experimenting with some frozen blueberries and lemons. The day has been very productive-2 aprons completed, lots of laughter with my son, baking orders finished, and a new recipe for lemon-kissed blueberry bread. The bread ended up having a cake-like texture and would be the perfect baked good to serve at a fancy brunch or tea. It is simply delicious and I look forward to sharing it with my Sunday School class tomorrow. I think I may even make mini loaves and wrap them in wax paper tied with blue and yellow ribbons to give as gifts this year. One wrapped loaf placed in a basket with a jar of lemon curd or blueberry preserves would make such a nice present to give to someone having a "blue" day.

You are prayed for my dear friends and dearly loved by God!
"My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
Psalm 27:8

Lemon-Kissed Blueberry Bread
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Lemon Glaze:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 9x5 inch loaf pan (I use Bakers Joy Spray with Flour). In a large bowl, beat together the melted butter, 1 cup sugar, lemon juice and eggs. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add the flour mixture into the butter/egg mixture alternately with milk. Gently fold in the lemon zestand blueberries. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine lemon juice and 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl. Remove bread from pan and drizzle with glaze before slicing. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Feeling Peachy

Sorry for the lapse in blogging. Life has been kind of crazy here lately. Nothing bad, in fact, we are all just peachy :). We just returned from a week-long vacation with my extended family to South Padre Island. After I returned, I had several huge baking orders to fill and lots of laundry to clean, and lots of adoption paperwork to fill out and organize. But, I am finally getting reorganized and back to my normal experimenting in the kitchen with my baking.

I tried a new recipe yesterday, and it turned out AMAZING! My hubby kept saying, "wow, this is really good!" I am personally not a fan of peaches, but I am sure if you are, then you will love this cake. I took my general pound cake recipe and tweaked it a little, adding sour cream and peaches. It came out really moist, buttery, and delish! It is the perfect end-of-summer cake :). I am sorry that there isn't a picture, but my camera went for a swim in the ocean while we were a the beach and my new camera has not arrived yet.

You are prayed for my dear friends! This song by Steven Curtis Chapman has really been speaking to my heart this week, and I wanted to share it with you guys. No matter what you are going through, please remember three things-God loves you, He is with you, and He is always in control.
Peach Pound Cake


1 cup butter (softened)
6 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract
(you could also use vanilla if you don' like almond flavor)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups finely chopped fresh peaches
(you could use canned peaches too, but be sure to drain them completely)
confectioners' sugar (to dust the top of the pound cake)

To soften your butter quickly, place the two sticks of butter in your microwave for 15-20 seconds. You do not want your butter melted, only softened.
Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in your almond or vanilla extract. In a seperate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet batter, alternating with sour cream. Gently fold in the chopped peaches. Pour your batter into a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving. ENJOY :)
This serves 12 people.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Exciting News

My hubby, son, and I have exciting news to share. We are in the process of adopting a baby girl from Russia. You can read all about it at our new blog:
Please pray for us as we begin this exciting chapter in our lives. You can help support our adoption costs by purchasing coffee at
I don't think I could fully express how deeply I love this little girl whom I have never met. God has written His love in my heart for her already. How I long for the day when I can hold Emma in my arms, watch my hubby dance with our daughter, and laugh together as Jaythan plays with her.

Today, our new Pastor spoke on I Thessalonians 5. I particularly felt God speaking to me through verses 24-25:

"God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful. Dear brothers and sisters, pray for us."
This verse will be my encouragment when I worry about how we are going to afford the adoption fees, my hope when I long to hold her and grow tired of waiting, and my comfort-reminding me that our dear friends and family are praying for us.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Chunky Peanut Butter Chippers

I have previously mentioned my love for Gooseberry Patch Cookbooks. They are wonderful and full of recipes created by people just like you and me. One of my favorite cookbooks of theirs is the "Old Fashioned Country Cookies", and in it I have found an amazing Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe-Chunky Peanut Butter Chippers. YUMMY! These are soft and delish and travel well so they would be great to take on a picnic.

Enjoy! You are prayed for my friends!

Philippians 1:6
"Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart."
Chunky Peanut Butter Chippers
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon water
1 cup chocolate chips
Beat sugars, margarine, and peanut butter. Add eggs, water, and vanilla, mixing well. Add dry ingredients, blend well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes. Makes 6 dozen small cookies.

Homemade Parmesan Pizza Dough & Goat Cheese, Mushroom, & Chicken Deep Dish Pizza

A long, long time ago, when I was a preteen learning to cook, my Aunt Teri gave me the best Pizza Dough recipe ever. I still use it anytime I want to make homemade pizza. This week, I made the yummiest Goat Cheese, Mushroom, & Chicken pizza with the aforementioned pizza crust. My hubby declared it "gourmet" and "delicious".

I recently got a coupon for a free block of Chavrie Goat Cheese with Basil & Roasted Garlic, and it turned out to be the perfect ingredient to our pizza pie.
Have a wonderful weekend. You are prayed for my friends! God listens when we call to Him, always showing us His Unfailing Love.
Psalm 17: 6-7
"I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.
Bend down and listen as I pray.
Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways."

Pamesan Deep Dish Pizza Dough
3 cups flour
1 1/3 cup warm water
1 pkg quick-rising yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugr
1 1/2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Mix yeast with warm water. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, salt, parmesan cheese, and oil. Add water/yeast mixture and stir until blended. Turn your oven on at 300 degrees for 3-4 minutes. Then, turn your oven off. Open the oven door for a minute. Cover the bowl of pizza dough with a wet dish towel and place the bowl in the closed (and off) oven. Let the dough rise in the oven for 30-45 minutes. Take the dough out, sprinkle with flour, and "punch" dough down. Let rise 20-35 minutes more. Grease the pizza pan with cooking spray or olive oil. Spread the dough on the pan. Add toppings and bake for 10-12 minutes at 450 degrees.

Goat Cheese, Mushroom, & Chicken Pizza

1 recipe Pizza Crust
1 8 oz can Hunts Tomato Sauce with Roasted Garlic
2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
1 can Mushroom Pieces or about 1/2 cup fresh Mushrooms
1 5.3 oz Chavrie Basil & Roasted Garlic Goat Cheese (about 1/2 cup)
2 cups cooked and diced grilled chicken
Mozzarella Cheese (2 cups)

Place Pizza dough on a greased circular pizza pan, covering the bottom. Spoon the Tomato sauce over the dough. Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning. Sprinkle Mushrooms over the sauce. Spoon the goat cheese over the pizza. Sprinkle the grilled chicken over the pizza. Top with mozzarella cheese and bake in a 450 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Blueberry Pie and a Reminder...

Today's Blueberry Pie recipe is easy, fresh, and a perfect Summer BBQ dessert. You can use fresh or frozen blueberries. Be as creative as you like with the top crust. Use your cookie cutters to cut out shapes or weave a lattice top. You can even use store-bought crusts if you don't want to take the extra time to make the homemade crusts. If using the store-bought, I would recommend using the boxed Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts that you unroll. I have also included a recipe below for a yummy homemade crust.

If you have multiple berries on hand, then I suggest making my Triple Berry Pie instead:

Whichever Pie you choose to make, it is sure to be Delish! Enjoy!

Even better than a slice of pie, is the knowledge that you are dearly, unfathomably loved by your Heavenly Father. Here is a reminder of just how much He loves you...


Sometimes hearts get forgetful,

distracted by the busy and the hard.

So here's a little reminder...

You're loved--

high as the sky, deep as the ocean, wide as the world (Ps 103:11)

You're created--

made by God's hands, one-of-kind, soul-deep-beautiful (Gen 1:31)

You're thought of--

all day, every day, awake-asleep-and-in-between (Ps 139:18)

And there's lots more where that came from

because there's no end to the ways He loves you.

-Holley Gerth


Blueberry Pie
1 Double Crust Recipe (see below for ingredients and directions)
8 cups (about 4 pints) blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 Tablespoons)
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Place blueberries in a large bowl. With your hands, crush about 1/2 cup of berries, letting them fall into the bowl as you work. Add sugar, butter, cornstarch, flour, and lemon juice; stir to combine. Spoon mixture into chilled pie shell, mounding berries slightly in the center. Remove dough from refrigerator, and either cut out shapes or place entire crust over blueberry filling. Tuck edge of top dough between edge of bottom dough and rim of pan. Using your fingers, gently press both layers of dough along the edge to seal, and crimp as desired. You can also make a lattice topping if you prefer.

Using a paring knife, cut several vents in top of dough to allow steam to escape or cut shapes out of the crust before lying it on top. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and cream. Brush surface with egg wash, being careful not to let it pool. Freeze or refrigerate pie until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in lower third.

Place pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until crust begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue baking, rotating sheet halfway through, until crust is deep golden brown and juices are bubbling and have thickened, 40 to 50 minutes more. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool completely. The pie is best eaten the day it is baked, but it can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.


Pie Crust for Blueberry Pie:
Makes 1 double crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

1.In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar; pulse briefly. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Do not overmix.

2.Divide dough in half, and turn out onto two large pieces of plastic wrap. Fold plastic over each portion of dough; press to shape into two 3/4-inch-thick disks. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (and up to 3 days); dough can also be frozen up to 3 months (thaw before using).

3.On a floured piece of parchment paper, roll one disk of dough to a 14-inch round. Wrap dough around rolling pin; unroll over a 9-inch pie plate. Gently fit into bottom and sides of plate (do not stretch dough). Using kitchen shears, trim dough to a 1-inch overhang all around; refrigerate until ready to use. Reserve and refrigerate remaining disk of dough for top crust.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake (Kiddo Favorite for Summer Time)

During the Summer nothing satisfies quite like an Ice Cream Sandwich. It is the perfect treat on a hot day after your kiddos have played outside or spent the day at the pool. It is even a yummy gift for us Moms who just need a little "happy" in our day :).

This super-easy dessert has only four ingredients, and it is Kid-Friendly. Let your children help you put it together, and turn it into a learning experience. My three year old son helped me, and we both enjoyed licking the cool whip off our fingers and stealing a chocolate sprinkle or two :). We also had fun counting the ice cream sandwiches as we layed them in the pan. He especially loved drizzling the chocolate syrup and sprinkling the sprinkles.
You can make this a healthy treat by using the lowfat ice cream sandwiches, fat free cool whip, and low sugar chocolate syrup. But, if you choose to use the regular stuff, then that's okay too-all that swimming and running around outside will burn the extra calories off :).

Enjoy! You are prayed for daily my friends!

Psalm 16: 5-11 (The Message)

"My choice is you, God, first and only.
And now I find I'm your choice!
You set me up with a house and yard.
And then you made me your heir!

The wise counsel God gives when I'm awake
is confirmed by my sleeping heart.
Day and night I'll stick with God;
I've got a good thing going and I'm not letting go.

I'm happy from the inside out,
and from the outside in, I'm firmly formed.
You canceled my ticket to hell—
that's not my destination!

Now you've got my feet on the life path,
all radiant from the shining of your face.
Ever since you took my hand,
I'm on the right way."

Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

12 ice cream sandwiches (I used the mini (100 calorie) ones)
1 1/2 cups Cool Whip (use any flavor -chocolate, french vanilla, or regular)
Wilton Cookies and Cream Sprinkles (you could use the colored sprinkles as well)
Hershey's Chocolate Syrup
Use a Glass or Metal 9x13 inch pan. Arrange 6 ice cream sandwiches on the bottom of the pan. Spread the sandwiches with 3/4 cup Cool Whip. Drizzle with Chocolate Syrup. Repeat Layers (6 sandwiches, 3/4 cup Cool Whip, Chocolate Drizzle). Scatter Sprinkles on top.
Freeze 6 hours or until firm. Cut into squares and enjoy!
Note: If you do not plan to use this right away, then you can cover it with plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to 1 week. Thaw 15 minutes before serving to make the slices easier to cut.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Red, White, and Blue Muffins-Happy Fourth Of July!

Happy Fourth of JULY! I am so thankful for the freedom we experience in our country and the freedom that I have found in Christ!

Galatians 5:1
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."

2 Corinthians 3:17
"For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

In honor of Independence Day, I made some Festive Red, White, and Blue Buttermilk Muffins with some Raspberries, Blackberries, and Blueberries that I had in my freezer. I used Patriotic Cupcake Liners and Flags to add to their festivity, and the end result was a super cute and super yummy muffin. If you don't have Raspberries on hand, feel free to use chopped strawberries.

If you are looking for other Fourth of July-Friendly Recipes be sure to check out my previous posts:

Triple Berry Bliss Pie:

Blueberry Cream Streusel Muffins (the BEST-MUFFIN-EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!):

Red, White, and Blue Buttermilk Muffins


1 cup frozen mixed berries, such as blueberries,
raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
Heaping ½ cup superfine sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
6 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
confectioners sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan or line with 12muffin pan liners. Cut any large berries, such as strawberries, into small pieces. Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the superfine sugar. Lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl, then beat in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the beaten liquid ingredients, and add the berries. Stir gently until just combined; do not overmix. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until well risen and firm to the touch. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hurricane Alex and Blackberry Crumble

I just pulled a Blackberry Crumble out of the oven, because, really, what's a Girl to do when faced with a Hurricane approaching? Today's weather has given me an excuse to snuggle in sweats, watch movies with my precious three year old, and BAKE! Hurricane Alex is set to make landfall tonight as a Category 2 Hurricane, but we have been feeling it's effects since last night. Today, we have received torrential rains, and the next two days will only get worse.

I love rainy days, comfy pjs, and baking. So, today, I decided to "PRAISE God in this Storm" and dance with my three year old. All this dancing worked up an appetite, so I got some frozen blackberries out of the freezer and whipped up a Hot Blackberry Crumble. I wish I could capture the smell of this dessert on camera because it would totally win a photography award :). My house smells heavenly, and our tummies will be satisfied. So, tonight after my hubby gets home from Mexico (Please pray for his safety as the storm is hitting hard there), we will have a Hurricane Party, and for dessert we will enjoy hot blackberry crumble with Blue Bell Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. And, if the power goes out, I guess we just have to eat all of the Ice Cream in the Freezer so as not to waste food ;).

So, have yourself a Hurricane Party in honor of us, and make this DELISH Crumble. I bet it would taste yummy with any type of berry you have on hand. Try Raspberries, Blueberries, Strawberries, or a combo of berries.

Psalm 107:29
"He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed."


Blackberry Crumble

5 cups fresh (or frozen) blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch oval baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine blackberries, sugar, and cornstarch. Pour into prepared dish. In another bowl mix oats, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or a fork until the mixture is crumbly. You could also use a food processor to do this if you like. I prefer a good old-fashioned fork :). Sprinkle oat mixture over blackberries. Bake until lightly browned and bubbly (about 45-50 minutes). Let stand 10 minutes before serving. This is best served hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.