Monday, September 23, 2013

Hebrews 12

Esther and Mary's Bible Study starts in a few weeks; this year we are studying Hebrews.  I am so happy and blessed to be a part of their study again this year. I have been reading Hebrews to get ahead on my studying (in case Martin starts crawling around soon and I have to chase him instead of reading as many books).  I have learned to read the verses in several versions. Pastor Shelton recommended The Message as a paraphase (not a literal translation). I enjoy the different perspective that it gives.  I usually read the ESV, NKJV, and The Message. 

Once in a while, The Message says that makes me think differently about a passage that I have read many times. I have always loved Hebrews 12: 1 – 2.  It might have something to do with listening to G.T. And the Halo Express and singing the first 2 verses over and over and over again. Below I have listed how the Message phrases these verses.

Hebrews 12: 1 – 4 (From the Message)
This passage follows the chapter about faith and how Abraham, Joseph, Issac, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, and many more acted in faith and believed the promises of God and were able to do great things.

“Do you see what this means – all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on?  It means we'd better get on with it.  Strip down, start running – and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parastic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in.  Study how he did it.  Because he never lost sight of where he was headedthat exhilarating finish in and with Godhe could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever.  And now he's there, in the place of honor, right along side God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over the story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

What sections of the Bible are you studying right now? Has any passage stuck out even though you have read it many times?   

Monday, September 16, 2013

Whole Wheat Oatmeal (Banana and/or Peach) Pancakes

I do not remember where I first found the recipes that I based this recipe on.  The orignial recipe calls for oil and white flour and is a plain and boring recipe for oatmeal pancakes.  I use the original recipe as a base for much goodness for Jared and my (and someday Mr. Baby's) breakfasts. 

I started by replacing the oil with applesauce. One day my bananas were going bad (anything past yellow is bad for me) and so I mashed them up and added them instead of the applesauce.  A warning, the first time I added way too many bananas and the dough never really cooked and stayed slimy in the middle. Also, the banana needed another egg (or two) to stabilize the dough and support the banana chunks.

Often I sprinkle on chocolate chips or blueberries once I have poured on the batter (chocolate chips find their way into way more pancakes than blueberries). Last week I didn't have enough bananas for a full recipe, but I had some peaches that needed to be used up, so I smashed the peaches up and added them with the 1 banana I had to the recipe.  That was Jared and my favorite so far.  I have also added vanilla, cinnamon, and pecans sometimes to the recipe.  There are all sorts of wonderful combinations and I would love to hear about any improvements or new flavor combinations you try. It might become my new favorite.

For now, I just give you my sort-of-recipe for the banana pancakes.      

Group 1
* 1-1/2 c. old fashion or quick oats (blended to a corse flour)
* 1-1/2 c. flour (I use whole wheat)
* 2 tsp. Baking soda
* 1 tsp. Baking powder
* ½ tsp. Salt
* 1/3 c. sugar (I use 1 – 2 T. sometimes... I put syrup on them, so they don't need to be super sweet and the bananas make them more sweet).

Group 2
* 1-1/2 c. buttermilk (confession, I have never made this recipe with buttermilk.  I always use milk and add lemon juice (see note below) and let it sit on my counter while I mix the dry ingredients. I bet buttermilk would make these pancakes even more incredible).
* 1 c. milk
* ¼ c. applesauce (or 2 – 3 bananas – I use 2.5 or 3)
* 1 egg (or 2 – 3 if using bananas – I use 2 or 3 depending on the size of the bananas)
1. Mix group one together in a medium bowl. Wisk to combine.

2. Mash banana. Mix until the chunks of banana are the size you want. Add the eggs, milk, and buttermilk.

3. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix to combine.

4. Sometimes I butter the pan. Most of the time they don't stick without butter. It depends on the pan I use.  Cook 2 – 4 minutes per side.  Make sure to spread the batter out after you have poured it in the pan!!

* Always spread the batter out in the pan.  If the batter is especially thick, spread the batter out a lot.  Otherwise, the middle will puff up and not cook and the middle of you pancake will be soupy.  It is gross. Avoid this problem and spread the batter out with a spoon or the edge of your measuring cup, when you dump the batter in the pan. The batter will thicken as it sits because the oatmeal absorbs some of the liquid.

** Jared and I make the entire recipe (or a double batch) and refrigerate or freeze the extras.  I try to undercook slightly the ones that I freeze.  That way they don't brown too much when I warm them up.  I put my pancakes in the toaster for a few minutes. While I was pregnant, I would warm up four pancakes and put them and syrup in a tupperware container and eat them on my way to work.  They were delicious.

*** I normally sprinkle the chocolate chips on after I have poured the batter in the pan.  That way I have all my chocolate chips evenly spread out and well balanced between pancakes. 

**** I buy a large container of quick oats (or old fashion oats – I have used both) and grind the entire container in my blender.  I have a plastic container with a lid that I store my oatmeal flour in.  When it is almost gone, I grind up another container.  I find it is easier to do it all at once and have it around.  It makes me make pancakes more often because the hardest step is finished.  :)

***** I sometimes throw my bananas in the kitchen-aid, with the wisk attachment, and let it mash up the bananas for me.  Often I buy bananas on sale at Harris Market and freeze them already mashed in quantities for pancakes and banana bread.

****** Don't just use milk.  You have to use buttermilk or the buttermilk substitution.  The acidity in the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda to help the batter rise.

******* 1 c. buttermilk = 1.c milk + 1 T. lemon juice
Let the mixture sit on the counter for a few minutes until it is sort of lumpy

Friday, September 13, 2013

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

When I had to give up dairy, because Martin is allergic to the protien in it, I started drinking Almond Milk.  I buy the unsweetened kind because the ingredient list is much shorter.  Sometimes they are out of the plain almond milk and instead I purchase almond & coconut milk.  It is great on my homemade granola (LINK TO RECIPE). However, every once in a while, usually when I come home from the gym, I want a glass of milk. Since I am used to creamy, delicious cow's milk, almond milk just lacks that omph when it is consumed plain. Thus, why I remember and started to make this simple recipe.  I keep a jar in my refrigerator almost all the time.

Chocolate Syrup
Makes 1 pint (I half the recipe for me and keep it in a jelly jar)
½ cup cocoa (often I add more or add some of the dark chocolate cocoa)
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1/8 tsp salt (I never measure, I just throw some in)
¼ tsp vanilla (again, I never measure, I just splash some in)

Heat everything, but the vanilla, on the stove.  Bring to a boil. Whisk every so often. Boil 3 – 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add vanilla.  Pour into a jar. Keeps several months in the frig.

***Note: to be especially frugal, after pouring the syrup in the jar, pour some milk in the pan to use up all remaining chocolate that is stuck to the sides.  Warm up and drink as hot chocolate. Yum.   

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Chocolate Pecan Pie

The history behind this pie … a few months ago, back in the late fall or early winter, one of Jared's co-worker's wife had a birthday.  Her husband (who works with Jared) asked me to make her a chocolate pecan pie for her birthday.  Since I had never made one before, I printed off several different recipes from online and scoured my cookbooks. I halved or quartered each recipe and then made mini pies (one of my favorite kitchen tools – whenever you have extra pie filling you can use these to make an extra pie or two so that you can try your creation before you bring it somewhere). I tried some goofy recipes.  One of the recipes called for chocolate chips to be sprinkled over the top.  That one tasted like a pecan pie with chocolate chips sprinkled over the top. Some recipes called for as little as one cup of pecans and you couldn't even taste the pecans.  The worst recipes were ones that called for over 1 cup of sugar.  BLEH.  They were way too sweet.  I would send samples with Jared to work and they would tell me which recipes they liked and why.

After a few tries, we ended up settling on a recipe from my southern cookbook, with the addition of unsweetened chocolate squares and removing some of the sugar (both ideas from other recipes).  It was also one of the only recipes that called for vanilla, which I thought added to the flavor. 

I hope you enjoy this as much as Jared and his co-workers.  Oh, and the wife said this was one of the best birthday presents she had ever received.  :)

4 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar (recipe calls for 1 cup)
1 cup corn syrup
1-1/2 tsp flour
tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
cup (½ stick) butter
2 cup pecans (I buy the broken pieces at Sams because they are cheaper than the whole ones and that way I don't have to chop them up for cookies, pies, or oatmeal)
1 pie crust (uncooked)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat eggs until foamy (2 – 4 minutes on med or high speed).
Mix sugar, corn syrup, flour, salt, and vanilla.
Melt butter and chocolate (I melt it in the microwave in a Pyrex measuring cup). Mix into rest of ingredients.
Stir in pecans.
Pour into pie crust.
Bake 40 – 60 minutes until filling is just soft in the middle when the pie is shaken and the crust is golden brown.

Cool on wire rack or chill.