Sweet Morning

This morning turned out much differently than my daily plan laid out for me. We had scheduled a retired teacher friend from church to come over and do some learning activities with the kids. The house was in need of a “cleaning blitz,” that’s what we call it when we all work together to quickly tidy up the whole house. We worked hard and had everything presentable just in time, but our friend had not arrived, yet. I sat down on the couch with a stack of newly borrowed library books, and we began to read while we waited. Twenty minutes later, I decided I had better call our friend to make sure she was still coming. It turned out that she had completely forgotten, not realizing it was already Thursday. I felt myself relax. It felt like a gift really…a clean house, a whole stack of new books to explore with the kids, and an open morning.

We spent a long while reading, and then Jedidiah got the bright idea that we should make cookies. It was only eleven in the morning, but, hey, why not? So we worked together and made snickerdoodles, cookies that remind me of my mom (I think, because her grandmother used to make them for her?). While the cookies were baking, I made some spinach quesadillas, a simple favorite. The kids actually gobbled down the quesadillas before they began asking for cookies. Jedidiah really and truly said (after biting into his quesadilla), “DElicious!! Mom, you’ve gotta try these! They taste like cake!” And later, he shouted an enthusiastic, “Yumm-O!!” After the quesadillas, we all enjoyed each other’s company and the tasty cookies we had made together. The point is, that a free morning without any chores tugging at my brain is a rare occurrence…a chance to be fully present with these little ones changing and growing so quickly right before my eyes. A gift. And, every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.


And, just because, a few sweet pictures of my dear kiddos earlier this Fall…



Oh, and the spinach quesadilla “recipe,” in case you were interested…


Corn tortillas

Fresh spinach

1/4 cup chopped onion

1-2 cloves minced garlic

Oil or butter (whichever you prefer)

Soy sauce

Cheese (shredded – I used mozzerella, but whatever you have will do)

This “recipe” will not have exact amounts. I just eyeball everything and make more or less depending on how many people I am feeding or how much my kids are eating. First, in a small pot, saute the onions and garlic in oil or butter until the garlic begins to brown. Then, add spinach (I usually just fill my small pot to the top, since it cooks down so dramatically). Add a teaspoon or so of soy sauce, and a very small amount of water, if necessary. Cook until the greens are wilted. I’m going to assume that you know how to cook a quesadilla in a skillet. I usually cook the quesadillas in a little butter, because I think my kids need the fat & it makes it taste super-yummy. I simply put a corn tortilla in the pan, sprinkle some cheese on it, spread a little of the spinach mixture over that and then top it with a second tortilla. Seriously, my kids LOVE this recipe, and I love that it gets them to eat spinach.


Simple, Healthy Cookies

Coconut Macaroons (makes 1.5 dozen small cookies)

1 1/3 cups Cocunut (unsweetened – available at health food and natural food stores; look for it in bulk!)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup sugar (I used a combination of honey and brown rice syrup to avoid processed sugar)

2 tbsp flour (substitute gluten-free flour for gluten-free cookies!)

1/4 tsp salt

2 egg whites


Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Mix coconut, pecans, sugar (if granulated), flour, and salt in large bowl. Stir in sugar (if wet – like honey or brown rice syrup) and egg whites. Stir until well-blended and mixture starts to stick together. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheets.

Bake 20 minutes or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets. Cool on wire racks.

Any Summer Squash Left?

We just used the last of our summer squash and zucchini last week. In case any of you still have some left, this recipe is awesome! Even little kids like it. I do make two major adjustments: (1) I use homemade chicken stock instead of water and buillion (I think this adds to it’s great flavor) and (2) I just grate some cheese for people to put on themselves instead of using the full amount the recipe calls for. (Also, it says zucchini, but any summer squash will work well.) Mmmm…it makes me hungry just thinking about it.ZUCCHINI GARDEN CHOWDER
from Simply in Season copyright 2009 Herald Presschowder

It’s a recipe you can be lenient with, depending what vegetables you have on hand.

2 T. butter
2 medium zucchini, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
2 t. fresh parsley, chopped
1T. fresh basil, chopped
⅓ c. flour
¾ t. salt
½ t. pepper
3 c. water
3 chicken or vegetable bouillon cubes
1 t. lemon juice
2 c. tomatoes,chopped
1 ½ c. evaporated milk
2 c. corn
2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ c. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Melt butter in soup pot over medium heat. Add zucchini, onion, parsley and basil. Saute until tender. Stir flour and seasonings into vegetables. Gradually stir in water to make a smooth stock. Add bouillon and lemon juice and mix well. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, evaporated milk and corn. Return to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until corn is tender. Just before serving add and stir cheeses until melted. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley (optional).

Sounds Weird but Tastes Delicious!

We made these tonight, and I think they are really great! I think kids would like them, too. However, my kids were tired and grumpy tonight and did not eat very much at all. They did have a spectacular time helping to make these, though. They especially enjoyed their job of mashing the sweet potatoes and then spooning out ingredients onto the tortillas. We used pinto beans instead of kidney beans (black beans would be good, too). These are very filling, and the recipe makes a lot of burritos; so, you might want to half it or expect leftovers. Oh, and we used the really big tortillas and then cut the burritos in half after we cooked them. I also left out the mustard. I’ve had these a few times at potlucks and would crave them again later, so maybe there really is something addictive about them! Enjoy!

Addictive Sweet Potato Burritos
recipe image
Rated: rating
Submitted By: Karena
Photo By: Allrecipes
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Ready In: 50 Minutes
Servings: 12
“These unusual burritos are made with sweet potatoes, spices and kidney beans. They freeze well, and can be deep fried instead of baked.”
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups canned kidney beans, drained
2 cups water
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 tablespoons soy sauce
4 cups cooked and mashed sweet
12 (10 inch) flour tortillas, warmed
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Heat oil in a medium skillet, and saute onion and garlic until soft. Stir in beans, and mash. Gradually stir in water, and heat until warm. Remove from heat, and stir in the chili powder, cumin, mustard, cayenne pepper and soy sauce.
3. Divide bean mixture and mashed sweet potatoes evenly between the warm flour tortillas. Top with cheese. Fold up tortillas burrito style, and place on a baking sheet.
4. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven, and serve.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2011 Allrecipes.com Printed from Allrecipes.com 2/1/2011



Last night, our friends Rob and Julie hosted a Seder meal for several families. In the past few years, Josh and I have found that we gain so much from the practice of observing Passover. Josh could write a better blog about all the symbolism involved in the Seder meal and about how it helps to make sense out of Jesus’ life and ministry, especially pertaining to the Last Supper. We feel excited to include Jedidiah and Lilia in these traditions and to teach them about these biblical stories. Last night, Jedidiah got to play the part of the youngest child, asking questions such as, “Why is tonight different from other nights?” He also got to be the one to search for the hidden piece of Matzoh bread. Weaving these beautiful and rich traditions into our lives has brought up many interesting conversations with him. This year, he is very interested in the stories of Palm Sunday and Easter. Each of these conversations is so special, meaningful, and formative. When they happen, I am struck by my role in my children’s lives and by God’s presence with me as I parent my children.

On a much more practical note, Jedidiah and I also made a few dishes to contribute to the Passover meal. First, we made homemade Matzoh bread, which turned out to be quite delicious. Unfortunately, Jedidiah was so enamored with the flour, that he did not ever really move on from playing with it. This would not have been so bad if he had not managed to get flour everywhere – on the kitchen chairs, table, floor, rug, etc. Then, we made the Charoset, a mixture of apples, walnuts, honey, and cinnamon. We also made a variation of Charoset with oranges, ginger, and slivered almonds. Lilia happily gnawed on a mostly pealed orange while I worked hard finishing up the food. Needless to say, the kitchen was a disaster, but we had fun & the food turned out to be delicious!

Here are the recipes (if you’re interested):

Unleavened Bread:

3/4 cup scalded milk
1 egg
1/4 cup honey
2-1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp. Salt

Beat egg, milk, honey, and butter together. Add the flour gradually. Knead until smooth. Roll the mixture to 1/4″ thick, then cut in shapes (rounds or squares). Prick with a fork. Bake on baking sheet for at 375 degrees for 15 or 20 minutes. (We had to add a little more flour. Also, we shaped the bread into three circle-shaped loaves about 1/2 to 1/4 in. thick.)

Traditional Apple Charoset:

yield: Makes about 4 cups

This is a standard Ashkenazi (Eastern European) recipe, with a little brown sugar added for depth.
  • 3 medium Gala or Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced
  • 1 1/2 cups walnut halves, lightly toasted, cooled, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet red wine such as Manischewitz Extra Heavy Malaga (we omitted the wine)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar (we used honey instead)

In large bowl, stir together all ingredients. Store, covered, at room temperature until ready to serve.

Notes: For the most even texture, we recommend dicing the apples by hand. However, to save time, they can be chopped in the food processor — just be careful not to overprocess.

Orange-Ginger Charoset

  • 2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 cup fresh orange segments, membranes removed, cut into 1/2-inch chunks (from about 2 large oranges)
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peeled, minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons diced crystallized ginger
  • 3/4 cup slivered blanched almonds, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon orange blossom honey
  • 3 tablespoons amaretto liqueur (we omitted this)

In large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well and serve immediately.