Saturday, January 29, 2011

Broccoli Chicken Casserole

Last night I wanted something quick, easy, and tasty for dinner. And, I wanted to use ingredients that I already had in my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. So, I turned to one of my favorite cooking magazines, TASTE OF HOME, and made a delicious and healthy Broccoli Chicken Casserole. I had all of these ingredients on hand, and our entire dinner was ready in about 30-40 minutes. I added some biscuits on the side and dinner was divine! This turned out super healthy because I used the reduced fat Campbell's Broccoli Cheese Soup and 2% cheese for the topping. I used a box of Stouffers Cranberry Stuffing Mix that I got on clearance after Thanksgiving for 25 cents a box. The Cranberries in the stuffing added a sweet hint to this savory dish. Enjoy!

You are prayed for and loved dearly by your Heavenly Father! Take time to thank Him today for the little blessings in your life.

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever."

Broccoli Chicken Casserole

1-1/2 cups water
1 package (6 ounces) chicken stuffing mix (any flavor will work)
2 cups cubed cooked chicken (I used Canned Chicken)
1 cup frozen broccoli florets, thawed
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed broccoli cheese soup, undiluted
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in stuffing mix.
Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, layer chicken and broccoli in a greased 11-in. x 7-in.
baking dish. Top with soup. Fluff stuffing with a fork; spoon over
soup. Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until heated
through. Yield: 6 servings.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chocolate Banana Bread-YUM!

I have been on a baking kick recently, trying new recipes, and reinventing old ones. This recipe for Chocolate Banana Bread turned out exceptionally well, and I have made it four times since my first trial. It is super easy and your kids will love it! It would make a perfect after-school snack. Adults will love it too :). Enjoy!

You are Prayed for my dear friends!

Chocolate Banana Bread
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350 and grease your loaf pan. Beat eggs, sugar and oil on medium until combined. Beat in banana and vanilla on low speed. In a separate bowl stir together flour, cocoa, soda and salt. Stir with banana mixture until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into pan. Bake 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, remove from pan.
TIPS:I like to freeze overripe bananas in a ziploc bag and thaw them about an hour before I am going to make bread. Pour the bananas and their juice into the bread to make it extra moist. To soften butter, microwave in a bowl for 10-15 seconds. You could substitute the chocolate chips for butterscotch or white chocolate chips for a different twist. You can buy really cute seasonal ceramic mini loaf pans at Michaels Craft stores for only $1. These make great gifts and the receiver gets to keep a beautiful pan.

Friday, January 14, 2011

OOEY GOOEY CHOCOLATE BUTTER CAKE will make you wanna say "Thanks Ya'll"

So, now that I am in my second trimester of pregnancy,the nausea/all-day sickness has started to gradually get better, I have begun cooking and baking agan. During the last three months, my poor hubby lived off of Campbells Chunky Soup, Hot Pockets, and the generosity of a dear neighbor who would bring him homecooked meals. But, alas, I am starting to feel better, and I have begun cooking him some superb meals and desserts if I do say so myself. Last night, I made him homemade chili, the homemade whole wheat colonial bread (that I posted yesterday), and this awesome "Ooey Gooey Chocolate Butter Cake" (as my son and I deemed it) by Paula Deen. If you know anything at all about Paula Deen and her recipes, then you realize that this will include lots of butter and other sinfully delicious ingredients.
The cake actually resembles a brownie-it has a brownie crust bottom with an insanely rich and decadent topping that involves lots of butter and cream cheese. No, this is not a healthy recipe, but it is baked full of love and will be sure to please the men and chocolate lovers in your life. I think it is best served warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream drizzled with hot fudge topping. Enjoy and remember you are dearly loved by your Heavenly Father!! Thanks Ya'll!

Psalm 19:9-10

"Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever.The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb."


1 (18.25 ounce) package chocolate cake mix (I used Devil's Food)
3 large eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus butter to grease your pan
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
3 to 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, to taste
1 (16-ounce) box powdered (confectioners') sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped unsalted nuts, optional (I omitted these)
Whipped Cream, Cool Whip, or Ice Cream for topping, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly butter or spray with cooking spray
a 13-by-9-inch baking pan ( I used to 9 inch square pans). In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, 1 egg, and 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter, and stir until well blended. Pat mixture into prepared pan and set aside. In a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the remaining 2 eggs, and the cocoa powder. Lower the speed of the mixer, and add the powdered sugar. Continue beating until ingredients are well mixed. Slowly add the remaining 1/2 cup (1 stick) of melted butter, and the vanilla, continuing to beat the mixture until smooth. Stir in the nuts (if using) with a rubber spatula. Spread filling over cake mixture in pan.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Be careful not to overbake the cake
; the center should still be a little gooey when finished baking. Let cake partially cool on a wire rack before cutting into pieces. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired. You can also serve them at room temperature like a brownie. Enjoy!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Whole Wheat Colonial Bread-Super Easy, Super Healthy, & Super YUMMY!

I do not like Bread Machines. I prefer baking my bread in a good 'ole loaf pan. This recipe was SO SO Easy (no yeast involved, no having to wait while it rises, etc...)and SO SO Yummy!! And, I have to mention that it is SUPER HEALTHY-no added fat or oil, or even eggs. The recipe makes two loaves of bread. You can store one in the refrigerator for later or even freeze it if you like. But, I would suggest putting it in the refrigerator because this bread will not last long once you taste how yummy it is. It is perfect for sandwiches, and ABSOLUTELY DIVINE toasted with butter.
Enjoy my Friends. And, remember that God's Word is the Most SATISFYING thing you can take in to your heart, body, spirit, and mind. May you truly "Taste and See that the Lord is Good!!" Psalm 34: 8!!
Whole Wheat Colonial Bread
4 cups low fat buttermilk
4 cups whole wheat flour (I use King's Arthur)
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans with bakers joy cooking spray or butter and flour.
In a large bowl, stir together the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pour in buttermilk, and stir until all of the dry mixture has been absorbed. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared loaf pans.
Bake for 40-50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted into the crown of the loaf comes out clean. Serve warm. Store leftover bread wrapped in plastic wrap in the refrigerator. This reheats well and it can also be frozen for later. If freezing, wrap in saran wrap, and then wrap in a dual layer of allumnium foil and put in a freezer ziploc bag.

Monday, January 3, 2011

“God said “Yes” even when I didn’t have the Courage or Faith to Ask.”

“God said “Yes” even when I didn’t have the
Courage or Faith to Ask.”

On October 28, 2008, our daughter was born at 27 weeks gestation and joined Jesus in Heaven due to a fatal chromosome disorder called triploidy. If you want to know more of Savannah’s story, you can read it here:

The past two years have been filled with devastating grief, loss, heartache, tears, brokenness, and even healing. The past two months have been filled with hope, redemption, joy, and a renewed trust in our Father’s love for us and His desire to heal our hearts.

I have always wanted a large family, lots of children, both biologically and adopted. After Savannah (our second child) passed away, I began to doubt that this “large family” idea was God’s will for our family. I was so physically and emotionally ill after she died that I wondered if it would even be possible for me to carry a child again. About a year and a half after she passed away, my husband and I began to feel strongly that God was urging us to begin the adoption process. We prayed and sought God over this decision for months because we truly wanted it to be His will for our family and not just our will. Feeling a strong peace from God that there is a little girl in Russia meant to be part of our family, we contacted Children’s Hope International and began the process toward bringing our Russian Princess home. In October of 2010, we finally completed the necessary paperwork and sent it to Moscow. We are currently waiting to be assigned a region in Russia and then given a referral (the technical term for the baby they select for you). Currently, the wait time in Russia for little girls is an average of 15 months. We are so excited about meeting and bringing our baby girl home to our family as she has already found a very special place in our hearts and we love her deeply.

If I were to be completely honest with you, while my heart has been full of excited anticipation regarding the adoption over the past two months, my heart has also been yearning for more biological children of my own. In fact, I don’t think this motherly yearning ever left after Savannah died. I think I quit asking God to bless my womb again, I think I quit expecting God to bless my womb again, and I think I just kind of gave up on that dream in my heart. Part of the reason was due to the fact that my body and heart were so physically and emotionally damaged after her pregnancy and death that I wondered if I would ever heal enough to walk that path again. Part of the reason may have been due to my thinking that “I don’t deserve to have more children” or “I should be happy with our amazing son, Jaythan”. But, I think the biggest reason that I quit asking God for more biological children was because of fear-fear of hoping and loving and then losing again. Fear that something would go wrong and our next child might not make it. I cannot describe in words what it felt like to wake up every day for 6 months in 2008 knowing that the daughter I carried in my womb would never blow out her birthday candles, dance with her daddy at her wedding, or simply give me a hug. I simply could not bear that heartache again. So, I didn’t ask God for more children. Instead, I just cried when I learned my close friends were pregnant (excited for them yet aching for it to be me); I kept silent when people assumed we were adopting because “we couldn’t have more children” (which was never the reason); I just kept my hurts hidden-the ache of an empty womb for two years as a silent pain for my heart only to bear.

But, sadly, the bottom line is that my faith in God had been buried somewhere under the heartache, the loss, the hurt, the questions, and the pain. I had quit believing that God can do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can think or imagine. I had quit expecting God to surprise me. I had quit expecting to ever receive again anything that my heart really hoped for.

I recently read a blog entry at that blessed my heart deeply. The writer told a story about how her little girl associated cold weather with snow. One day, when it was very cold, the little girl was so excited because she just knew it would snow. Her mother sweetly told her that it wasn’t going to snow. Her daughter’s response was something along the lines of “you are not God, mom. God makes those decisions and not you.” In the daily trials of life her mother had somehow just stopped asking for little surprises, for the things her heart desired the most, for the “snows” of life. She had put God in a box-her own little unbelieving box. You can read the full article here: This simple yet full-of-truth article really struck home with me. As I was reading it, I couldn’t stop crying and turned my tears into confession to God for not giving Him my fullest expectation of “sending snow” in my life. As I write this entry now, I am sitting in my parent’s home in North Carolina two days away from Christmas where they are calling for significant snow…a Snow that I did NOT ask God for but that He chose to bless me with anyway. (I am from Southern Texas where it is 85-100 degrees everyday of the year so you can only imagine what a big deal a Christmas snow is to me).

But, perhaps the greatest snow that I find myself basking in the blessing of is that on November 10 (less than a month after we submitted our paperwork for the adoption to Russia), I woke up feeling strange only to discover later that morning with two pink lines that I am pregnant-covered in a blizzard of snow that God knew my heart desired yet I never had the courage to ask for. But, that isn’t the entire story of the miracle God has given us. We were not even technically trying to get pregnant. I have not been menstruating regularly since Savannah’s birth, and we were not using any fertility drugs like clomid (as we did in my first two pregnancies). My husband and I were, and are, in shock, in awe, and completely humbled at this unexpected, God-given and to God be ALL the GLORY miracle child.

To be completely honest with you, the first day I learned of the pregnancy, I was paralyzed with fear-an overcoming anxiety and lots of questioning. While being completely ecstatic` that we were having a baby, I was also scared beyond belief having gone through the loss of a child. However, God meets us in our weakness and that is truly when His power is made perfect. That day and throughout the week, He spoke to us through songs, confirmations on the Christian radio, scriptures in our inbox, and encouragement from friends that this baby is HIS GIFT to us and that He will bring BEAUTY from ASHES and JOY in the MORNING. On November 10th, this was my verse of the day that showed up on my computer: “Therefore I will teach them this time, I will teach them my power and might. Then they will know that my name is the Lord.” Jeremiah 16:21

This Sunday in Church our Pastor made the comment, "You can trust God with the Desires of Your Heart BECAUSE HE CARES AND HE CAN!!!"
We have seen our baby several times in an ultrasound and he/she is healthy and has a strong heartbeat and due to arrive in our arms on July 19, 2011. We just had our 12 week sonogram today where they test and measure for genetic disorders (this is the appointment where we discovered Savannah's condition). I was very anxious going in today, but God overwhelmed us with HIS JOY. The baby measured perfectly, no signs of any problems, was active, had a great heartbeat, and for the first half of the appointment was in a knees bowed, head bowed, hands together, praying position. The picture is at the top of this entry. What a beautiful picture of God's Grace and my THANKFULNESS to Him that was for me!!

Even as I am now in my second trimester, it is a day to day lesson in trusting God for me. In my moments of anxiety and fear, I try to capture each thought and bring it captive to God’s love and promises and who HE is. So for now, I am going to enjoy every moment of this pregnancy with sweet anticipation of the arrival of God’s Miracle Gift in July. And, I am going to continue to hope and pray and long for the day when we bring our precious Russian baby home to join our family. So for this BLIZZARD of SNOW in our lives (the blessed hope and the faith to believe), I will praise Him; I will trust Him, and I will give Him all the GLORY!

Psalm 40:11 says, "...My only hope is in your unfailing love and faithulness"


For Your endless love (For Your endless love)

For the life You gave (For the life You gave)

For the second chance (For the second chance)

For Your priceless grace (For Your priceless grace)

For Your healing hands (For Your healing hands)

For the gift of peace (For the gift of peace)

For the blessed hope (For the blessed hope)

For the faith to believe (For the faith to believe)


For these reasons I praise You

For these reasons I worship You

For these reasons I live to tell

of Your love to all the world

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Apple Spice Muffins-Happy New Year!!!!!!!

Happy New Year my dear friends! I pray that in the upcoming year you grow closer to the loving God who longs for an intimate relationship with you! He loves you more than you can ever comprehend, and He is faithful in ALL circumstances. Surrender each day of this New Year to His loving care-No Safer Place to Be!!

"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy." Psalm 126:3

Today, I experimented with a few new recipe creations. I had one lone apple in my refrigerator that I wanted to use up, so I came up with a yummy Apple Spice Muffin that turned out super moist and very healthy. No eggs, added fats or oils....just goodness and yumminess! Enjoy!!
You are prayed for and loved!!!!!!!!

Apple Spice Muffins


2 cups Bisquick Baking Mix (or other biscuit baking mix)

1/2 cup milk

2 Tablespoons Sugar

2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar-packed

1/2 cup applesauce

1 finely chopped apple (peeled and cored)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Cinnamon Sugar Mixture for topping


Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Stir together until thoroughly mixed with a wooden spoon. Fill greased or lined muffin tins 2/3 full. Sprinkle tops of muffins with cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes. Yield: 12 muffins. Enjoy warm with an ice cold glass of milk!