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Showing posts from October, 2011

5 Minute Coffee Cake in a Coffee Cup

When I first ran across this little recipe on Pinterest a week or two ago, I thought "that can't possibly be as good as it looks."  Coffee cake is yummy of course, but made in the microwave?  I was skeptical.  Still, the pictures and the idea that a warm cup of cake could be in my hands in 5 minutes were pretty compelling.  So off to the kitchen I went.

I'm happy to say I was pleasantly surprised with the results.  You'd never mistake this for the tender crumb of a coffee cake made and baked the traditional way, but it was really pretty good!  Less dangerous than a whole cake sitting on the counter, and fun to boot.  The variations are endless.  My favorite coffee cake is loaded with cinnamon and chocolate chips, so I threw some of both into my little test.  You could also try some tiny bits of apple and some cinnamon, or maybe some raisins.  Other kinds of chips?  Go for it!

Coffee Cake in a Coffee Cup
(adapted from Prudent Baby, check out the original for a ca…

Why Homeschool

I've been working on this post for some time now.  I wanted to share a little bit about a big bit of my life's work:  homeschooling.  Talk to any homeschooling family and you're likely to hear a variety of different reasons for why they've chosen this method of education for their children.  But most will agree, it's more than an education, it's a lifestyle--a way of living and thinking.  Here's some reasons why we have chosen this for our family, and why we have not. 

1.  I am NOT homeschooling because I want to shelter my children from all the evils of the world.  I mean, I do of course, but it's an impossibility because the world is full of sinners.  My children are, and I am.  This is not about keeping them in a bubble of Christian safety until they are 30.  I AM homeschooling so that as my children encounter sin, in their own hearts and the hearts of others, I can help them see it for what it is--a sign of depravity and of the need for Jesus.  So …

Chicken Cacciatore

In the unlikely event you were waiting with baited breath for the results of dinner with my new pot the other night, I will now relieve your anxiety by assuring you it was delicious. :)  This beauty did the job admirably.  I was tickled by how much food I could fit in it; it will be a fabulous size for entertaining.  Clean up was super easy and it seemed to heat evenly and hold the heat well.

The chicken cacciatore recipe is from my mother in law, from an old version of the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. It's an easy and inexpensive meal, and the flavor is superb. 

Chicken Cacciatore

3 lbs. bone-in chicken pieces 

2 medium onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. celery seed
2 bay leaves

1/4 c. dry white wine

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pot, and brown the chicken pieces.  Remove the chicken and  saute the onions and garlic until soft and onion is translucen…

Chinese Lemon Chicken

Do you sometimes buy ingredients without knowing exactly what you'll do with them?  I found myself with two unloved lemons in my kitchen a few weeks ago from a dessert that never materialized.  We hadn't had a stir fry in a while so I went poking around the internet to see what I could come up with and stumbled upon a really awesome blog, Appetite For China.  If you love Asian food, it's a must-visit.  I can't wait to try some of the site's other recipes, but the Lemon Chicken is definitely a winner.  As usual, I skipped the deep frying and added some veggies.  Broccoli and carrots always seem to work well, snow or sugar snap peas would also be nice. Visit the blog for pictures way prettier than mine and for the original recipe! :)

Chinese Lemon Chicken (adapted from

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 c. cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
peanut or canola oil

Lemon slices (optional)
White sesame seeds (opt…

God's Faithfulness: My Daughter Can Read (and Speak)

At 2 1/2, my daughter was still mostly nonverbal.  She communicated well with sign language and gestures, but few words.  We got her into an early intervention speech therapy program just a few months before her 3rd birthday.  I heard her say "mommy" for the first time when she was almost 3 1/2.  She's now nearly 5 and God has done a great work in her life.  We have prayed many, many times for Him to help her learn to speak, to make certain sounds (she couldn't produce a "g" or a "k" until this past Spring), and recently, to read.  Speech therapists have seen her 2-3 times every week since she began therapy. 

As part of homeschooling, I began instructing her from Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons in February of this year.  We're now nearing the end of the book, just a few lessons from the end actually, and we're rejoicing over her progress.  My little girl who couldn't talk is now reading at a 1st-2nd grade level.  Praise t…

Oreo Cake

I don't have a lot of commentary on this pretty black and white cake; it was sent off this morning for some other folks to enjoy.  I hope they did!  It sure looked good and the sample I had from the cuttings I took to even out the layers was definitely tasty.  

The cake varies minimally from its parent, Dorie Greenspan's Devil's Food White-Out Cake.  You already know how much I love Dorie and her wonderful baking book. :)  To this already fabulous cake, I added Oreos and some instant coffee to the batter, frosted and filled it with my favorite 7-minute frosting and then added more Oreos on top. 

Oreo Cake (adapted from Dorie's Devil's Food White-Out Cake, my tinkerings in bold)

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspo…

Zucchini Spice Bread with Apple Cider Glaze

Zucchini season is almost over.  But! There is still time to make this.  This is no ordinary zucchini bread.  This is zucchini bread laden with aromatic spices and sweet white chips and topped with an apple cider glaze that sets up hard and crackly like you'd want on a really good donut.  This bread is more like cake.  This bread is delicious.  This bread is made with vegetables, so it's probably healthy.  Right?  Right.

This picture represents all that remains of two loaves I made yesterday.  No, I didn't eat ALL of it, like I wanted to. One whole loaf went in with hubby to work today, and I did share the absent portion of this one with the rest of my family.  It's dangerously easy to whip up and I hope you'll give it a try; if you don't usually like zucchini in any way, shape, or form, this just might change your mind. 

Zucchini Spice Bread with Apple Cider Glaze (adapted from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book--love, love, love this cookbook)

3 c. flour
1 T. baki…

Oven BBQ'd Ribs

Would. you. look. at. those. ribs.  I did it with my Easy Bake oven!   Can you believe it?  They seriously came out looking like something from one of my favorite BBQ joints.  Perhaps that is not amazing to you, but back in the first year of my marriage, I attempted pork ribs at home and they did NOT look like this.  My poor husband.  They were truly awful.  I could barely boil water when we said "for life, so help me God," and my good man endured his fair share of mediocre and just bad meals over our first months together.  But what I lacked in skill I made up for in enthusiasm, and I continued to cook every night, following recipes to the letter until I got the hang of it and then began tweaking and experimenting.  We rarely eat out--maybe a handful of times a year--so I've spent a lot of time learning my way around the kitchen.  Though you'd never mistake me for a chef, I think my hubby would agree the practice has yielded vast improvement. Still, it's taken …

7 Things on the 6th, or 7th...whatever day it is

Note:  I originally titled this "7 things on the 7th" and hit "publish," which would be fine except it's the 6th today.  D'oh.  It's still 7 things, whatever day  it is.

1.  This has been my view out the window above my kitchen sink the past few nights. It does much to lessen the tedium of washing dishes.

2.  Fall blooms in the back flower bed.  And a crazy basil plant.

3.  Kid giggles.  My son has reached one of my favorite ages/stages (17 months) and is one happy little perpetual motion meatball.  He spends a good portion of every day playing with his older sister.  She's been waiting for him to turn into a play mate since we announced his coming, and it's truly sweet to watch them enjoy each other.
4.  Rain boots. Fall has its fair share of soggy days and they've come in handy.  I know my particular choice is a little on the loud side know Sarah, Plain and Tall?  Well, I am Sara, short and eccentric. :) 

5.  What Paul calls "o…

Chocolate Loaf Cake with Fudge Frosting (It's My Birthday, I Can Bake If I Want To)

Friday was my birfday.  I'm the grand old age of 26 now. :)  My husband made dinner, I received some sweet cards and some lovely gifts from my family including a pretty pashmina, a pair of kickin' new boots to sport until the snow flies...
...and a book I've been wanting to read, Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic.  It's a quick, light, and encouraging read; I'm about halfway through.  More thoughts when I finish.  My parents also returned from a vacation in Italy with a new apron for me, with pictures of gelato all over it.  I told them that I wanted them to bring back some gelato, and they certainly did their best. :)

Even without any real gelato, my sweet tooth is feeling pretty satisfied.  Though I make birthday desserts for everyone else, my own have typically come from a store.  That's always been my choice, but last year's cake was a little underwhelming.  So, this year, though my husband offered to make or buy so…