Thursday, August 27, 2015

Recipe - Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Layer One

My sister came for a visit this summer.  It was a blast.  She hadn't been home in many years and she was excited to experience our childhood food memories along with traditional New England fare like fried clams and lobster.  On the day of our cookout, she wanted to make an old family favorite, strawberry pretzel salad.  I was glad she did.  Though I'm not quite sure why it's called, "salad", it was delicious.  She left before we could finish it all and I probably finished half of it on my own.  It's a great recipe given to my mom by a friend.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

My sister took pictures for me as she began making the dessert.  I finished making the recipe, forgetting to take pictures of the final product.  So I apologize for no final pictures, but trust me, it was good!

Layer Two ingredients, creamed

Strawberry Pretzel Salad


2 cups crushed pretzels
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar

Layer One

8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 cups Cool Whip

Layer Two

6-ounce package strawberry jello
2 cups boiling water
1 16-ounce package frozen strawberries
1 10-ounce package frozen strawberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  For crust, mix together ingredients and press into a 13X9 inch pan.  Bake for 6 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool.

Mix softened cream cheese and 1 cup sugar.  Fold in cool whip.  Spread mixture over cooled pretzel crust.

Prepare jello with 2 cups boiling water.  Add frozen strawberries and mix with jello.  Pour jello over cream cheese layer and refrigerate several hours until firm.

To serve, cut in slices as you would a cake.

TIP!  Lower fat Neufchatel cheese can almost always be substituted for full fat cream cheese in any recipe.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Coffee and Blue Jeans - Thick and Comfy Crochet Blanket

This blanket is one of my favorites.  I finished it and just had to bring it outside to take pictures.  After reading some photo tips on another blog, I realized how to use some features on my camera that helped with better photo quality.  I think these pictures turned out better than some of my others.  I'm still an amateur, but progress is progress!

This is a very quick and easy blanket.  Also, the materials are more budget friendly than other similarly thick blankets made with more expensive thick yarn.  The trick to this is to take two strands of worsted weight yarn and crochet with them as if they are one strand.  I used Red Heart Super Saver coffee, denim, soft white and cafe latte.  

The stitch used is a double crochet, so it's quite simple.  You can make any size or color you like, but a pattern for this blanket can be found below.

Coffee and Blue Jeans - Thick and Comfy Crochet Blanket

1 jumbo skein Red Heart coffee 
1 jumbo skein Red Heart cafe late
1 jumbo skein Red Heart soft white
2 skeins Red Heart denim

Hook size: L


Chain 88 in coffee.

Double crochet into the third chain from hook.

Continue to end of row and turn.  Chain two.  Double crochet in first double crochet from previous row and continue to end of row.  Repeat until you have four rows of coffee.

Continue with four double crochet rows of cafe latte, followed by four double crochet rows of soft white, completing the pattern with two double crochet rows of denim.

Repeat pattern five times and end with four rows of coffee.

The finished blanket measures approximately 42 inches X 60 inches.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Family Recipe - Auntie's Banana Bread

When I was growing up this quick bread was a staple.  If you have a bunch of overripe bananas sitting on your counter or filling your freezer, this is the recipe for you.  Everyone in my family loves Auntie's Banana Bread for breakfast, snack or any time.  Actually, I haven't met anyone who isn't fond of this quick bread.

Auntie's Banana Bread


2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ripe bananas - mashed
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil (canola, vegetable or non-virgin olive oil)
2 eggs

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Recipe - Just Like Store-Bought Ketchup

I've made my own ketchup in the past.   Honestly, though, it wasn't up to par by my standards.  It tasted more like a sweet chili sauce.  My husband liked it, but it didn't pass the kid test.  For a while after I had made it, my kids would ask, "is this the homemade ketchup?" in a whining tone, indicating that the homemade ketchup was precisely not what they wanted.  My daughter, four at the time, even insisted that I not buy the homemade kind anymore.  Funny.

This recipe is adapted from a copycat recipe I found.  It tastes delicious and store-bought.   The original recipe called for corn syrup which I'm sure caused the consistency to be similar to the popular brands, but I've found that we're quite happy using sugar.  We also use sea salt and add a bit more water than the original recipe

Just Like Store-Bought Ketchup


2 6 oz. cans tomato paste 
1 cup white vinegar

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

And the Greatest of These is Love

Image by Pippalunacy
If I speak in tongues of men but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.  If I have the gift of prophesy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres.  

Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.  When I was a child I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

I Corinthians 13

The enormity of the importance of these verses is often lost because of the frequency with which they are quoted.  We read bits of this passage on mugs.  We see it on calendars and hang it on our walls.  It is read at weddings.  As Christians, we hold this scripture dear, but I think we hold it on the surface.

Can you hear what Paul is saying here?  We know in part, we prophesy in part.  Everything we know and understand is one day going to pass away.  That theology we hold dear, the doctrine we just can't let go of.  It's all going to slip away when eternity replaces the temporal.

Don't misread me.  We need our theology and our doctrines because we need explanation and meaning.  These are the things which lead us to God.  These are the things that allow us to have a relationship with the undefinable, indescribable God.  God is reachable because of these frameworks of doctrine.  But let us not confuse the frameworks with God.  God is bigger and better and greater and more love than anything we could ever create.

Love, the greatest of all things, the the thing that supersedes all that we know and are, that is the thing for which we ought to strive.

But truth….

In my few years on this planet I have been preoccupied with discovering truth.  Truth is important.  Yet I know that love is all the more.  In my imperfection, may I choose love that I might please the one for whom I was created to love.  May I choose this thing that will remain even when other things pass away.

Love is elusive, yet love never fails.

God is love.