Saturday, January 31, 2009

Another great recipe - Penne a la Vodka

Another favorite in our home. It's really easy to make and is delicious. I served this last night to a group of teens with salad and bread and it was well received. :)

Penne a la Vodka

2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
6 oz. sliced prosciutto or Canadian bacon, chopped
3 green onions, trimmed, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
1/4 cup vodka
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. penne

1) Heat oil in a medium-size saucepan over low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, making sure garlic doesn't burn. Add prosciutto, green onions, ground red pepper and vodka; cook for 4 minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes; cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Add cream and salt; cook 3 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, cook penne in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water until ad dente. Drain well, Toss penne with vodka sauce to coat evenly.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

GREAT Lasagna Recipe

OK - I like lasagna but have never found a recipe I loved so I haven't made it in forever. I tried Pioneer Woman's lasagna but found it too heavy on the sausage and even trying to modify it, it still was too much for me. So I continued my quest. I went to AllRecipes and found "The World's Best Lasagna" with 5 stars and over 2000 reviews so I figured I'd try it. It was GREAT!!! Here's the recipe as I did it for convenience. There are some modifications that I found in the reviews and I incorporated them here. The sauce is awesome and worthy of any good pasta dish you want it for so it's OK to double it and freeze the extra for another meal.

World's Best Lasagna

1 lb. Italian sausage
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 (6 oz.) cans tomato paste
2 (6.5 oz) cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup water or red wine
1 Tbsp. white sugar
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
lasagna noodles (I used 15)
16 oz. ricotta cheese
dash nutmeg
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese

In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until well browned. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce and water/wine. Season with sugar, basil, fennel seed, Italian seasoning, 1 Tbsp. salt, pepper and 2 Tbsp. parsley. Simmer, covered for atleast 1.5 hours - up to 5 hours, stirring occasionally.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for about 8-10 minutes. Drain noodles and rinse with cold water. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with egg, remaining parsley and 1/2 tsp. salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups meat sauce in the bottom of a 9X13" pan. Arrange noodles over meat sauce. Spread with 1/2 the ricotta mixture. top with a third of the mozzarella cheese. Spoon 1 1/2 cups meat sauce over mozzarella and sprinkle with 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Repeat layers and top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese Cover with foil (spray foil with cooking spray to avoid sticking).

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 2 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Menu Monday .... ummm .... errrr .... Tuesday?? Atleast I did it!!

OK - so it's not Monday but I did my list yesterday and went shopping!! So it's a day late. That's OK. :D

Monday - Chicken Chow Mein
Tuesday - Lasagna, salad
Wednesday - "Good Salad" (has lettuce, blue cheese, pear or mandarin oranges, craisins, glazed walnuts and chicken with a vinaigrette dressing)
Thursday - Caramel Apple Pork Chops, broccoli, buttered noodles
Friday - Penne a la Vodka, salad
Saturday - Sauerbraten, red cabbage, mashed potatoes and green beans
Sunday - Super Bowl appetizer dinner

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Amazing video - Life

A prayer for today by Al Mohler

Our Father, Lord of all creation, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: We pray today with a sense of special urgency and responsibility. We come before you to pray for our new President, Barack Obama, and for all those in this new administration who now assume roles of such high responsibility.

We know that you and you alone are sovereign; that you rule over all, and that you alone are able to keep and defend us. We know that our times are in your hands, and that "the king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord" [Proverbs 21:1]. Our confidence is in you and in you alone. We come before you as a people who acknowledge our constant need for your provision, wisdom, and protection.

Father, we pray today for Barack Obama as he takes office as President of the United States. We pray that you will show the glory of your name in our times and in these days, confounding the wisdom of the wise, thwarting the plans of the arrogant, and vindicating those who do justice and practice righteousness.

Father, we pray with thanksgiving for the gift of government and the grace of civic order. Thank you for giving us rulers and for knowing our need for laws and and ordered life together. Thank you for this nation and the blessings we know as its citizens. Thank you for freedoms unprecedented in human history. We understand that these freedoms come with unprecedented opportunities.

Lord, we pray with thanksgiving for the joy and celebration reflected on millions of faces who never expected to look to the President of the United States and see a person who looks like themselves. Father, thank you for preserving this nation to the moment when an African-American citizen will take the oath of office and become our President. Thank you for the hope this has given to so many, the pride emerging in hearts that had known no such hope, and the pride that comes to a people who have experienced such pain at the hands of fellow citizens, simply because of the color of their skin. Father, we rejoice in every elderly face that reflects such long-sought satisfaction and in every young face that expresses such unrestrained joy. May this become an open door for a vision of race and human dignity that reflects your glory in our differences, and not our corruption of your gift.

Father, protect this president, we pray. We pray that you will surround this president and his family, along with all our leaders, with your protection and sustenance. May he be protected from evil acts and evil intentions, and may his family be protected from all evil and harm.

We pray that the Obama family will be drawn together as they move into the White House, and that they will know great joy in their family life. We are thankful for the example Barack and Michelle Obama have set as parents. Father, protect those precious girls in every way -- including the protection of their hearts as they see their father often criticized and as he is away from them on business of state. May their years in the White House bring them all even closer together.

Father, we pray for the safety and security of this nation, even as our new president settles into his role as Commander in Chief. We know that you and you alone can be our defense. We do not place our trust in horses or chariots, and we pray that you will give this president wisdom as he fulfills this vital responsibility.

Father, grant him wisdom in every dimension of his vast responsibility. Grant him wisdom to deal with a global financial crisis and with the swirling complex of vexing problems and challenges at home and abroad. May he inspire this nation to a higher vision for our common life together, to a higher standard of justice, righteousness, unity, and the tasks of citizenship.

Father, we pray that you will change this president's heart and mind on issues of urgent concern. We are so thankful for his gifts and talents, for his intellect and power of influence. Father, bend his heart to see the dignity and sanctity of every single human life, from the moment of conception until natural death. Father, lead him to see abortion, not as a matter of misconstrued rights, but as a murderous violation of the right to life. May he come to see every aborted life as a violation of human dignity and every abortion as an abhorrent blight upon this nation's moral witness. May he pledge himself to protect every human life at every stage of development. He has declared himself as an energetic defender of abortion rights, and we fear that his election will lead directly to the deaths of countless unborn human beings. Protect us from this unspeakable evil, we pray. Most urgently, we pray that you will bring the reign of abortion to an end, even as you are the defender of the defenseless.

Father, may this new president see that human dignity is undermined when human embryos are destroyed in the name of medical progress, and may he see marriage as an institution that is vital to the very survival of civilization. May he protect all that is right and good. Father, change his heart where it must be changed, and give him resolve where his heart is right before you.

Father, when we face hard days ahead -- when we find ourselves required by conscience to oppose this president within the bounds of our roles as citizens -- may we be granted your guidance to do so with a proper spirit, with a proper demeanor, and with persuasive arguments. May we learn anew how to confront without demonizing, and to oppose without abandoning hope.

Father, we are aware that our future is in your hands, and we are fully aware that you and you alone will judge the nations. Much responsibility is now invested in President Barack Obama, and much will be required. May we, as Christian citizens, also fulfill what you would require of us. Even as we pray for you to protect this president and change his heart, we also pray that your church will be protected and that you will conform our hearts to your perfect will.

Father, we pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, the ever-reigning once and future King, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He and he alone can save, and his kingdom is forever. Above all, may your great name be praised. Amen.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Popular Preachers on TV

So my girls and I were watching a movie the other night and when it was over, the girls went to bed. I was about ready to go too when suddenly a bright smiling happy face was on the screen - none other than Joel Osteen. Now to be honest, I've heard tons about him, have read some of the things he's said, have seen him on Larry King and such but I've never watched an entire broadcast service by him so I figured "Why not??" and started watching. The first thing that struck me was this little thing he says before he starts preaching where everyone stands up, holds up their Bibles and recites:

This is my Bible: I am what it says I am; I have what it says I have; I can do what it says I can do. Today, I will be taught the Word of God. I'll boldly confess. My mind is alert; my heart is receptive; I will never be the same. I am about to receive the incorruptible, indestructible, ever-living Seed of the Word of God. I'll never be the same - never, never, never! I'll never be the same, in Jesus' Name.

So, some of that gave me pause but I'd give him the benefit of the doubt. So I watched on.

The message was titled "Stay Open for Something New". A few of the things I could almost agree on - with clarifying what was said (because I have a strong feeling that his meanings on things are different than my meanings on things), but overall, the message was so weak. He said that, of course, God has a plan for you and wants you to prosper (and where does "take up your cross" and "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds," does that fit?). Don't ever turn down a promotion at work - don't ever say that you can't do it. You can. That's God blessing you. If you fail at something, move on because God has something else for you. When you find it, you will succeed (don't tell that to Paul in prison).

You know what REALLY struck me though? He used 2 Scriptures in total in the message and they were really almost token Scriptures, totally taken out of context (ex. "Arise shine for your light has come" means that God's best is here for you now. HUH???). The ONLY time he held his Bible was to lift it for the pledge. Now, I know he probably has it on his teleprompter or even committed those large portions of Scripture to his mind, but still - SHOW your congregation your use of the Bible. In our church, we're told to "circle that word", "write in your margin this....." etc. Our Bibles are active and growing tools for us - not something that will be your writing surface as you write the neat little sayings your pastor says.

I was quite saddened by watching him. Yes, he's a wonderful motivational speaker - there's no question on that point. He's charasmatic, engaging, handsome (although to me, it's a creepy handsome - like what Satan would look like if he walked the earth), and flashy. But that doesn't mean that he's a good pastor, good minister of the Word or one who preaches the Gospel. Sin is not a happy thing to think about but if we do not know what our illness is, we will not be able to get well. I'd rather walk into the doctor and hear "You've got cancer. It's going to be a long road but I think we can get you well." rather than "You're fine! Nothing is wrong with you that a little happiness and good feelings won't fix!" Ummm - I'm dying, I want to know about it so I can go through the suffering of the treatment and maybe get well. The wishy-washy, feel good diagnosis will do nothing to save my life - or my soul.

So now I've seen it with my own two eyes and ears. Joel Osteen is at best a good motivational speaker and at worse a false prophet. I'm not sure which yet since I haven't studied him fully but I can safely say that he's not going to lead you to a faith in Christ. It will be a faith in yourself.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

An update on the man who I asked you to pray for.

Well, God is amazing. Really, truly amazing. I was continuing to keep in touch with AJ all through the day Wednesday and by Wednesday night another board member had found a pastor who was willing to go meet him and help him. Unfortunately, that didn't turn out well and AJ told me in the morning that he wasn't going to wait but he was going to kill himself that very day. I kept speaking to him via PM (I have now 100 PMs from 2 days with him) and trying to give him hope. It seemed I was getting through to him a bit and during that time, the other member decided to pay for him to stay one night in a hotel. So he got to have a good night's sleep and a shower, which was a great blessing. He was uplifted a bit by that. The next morning (now Friday morning), he had spent all morning on the phone but finally found a treatment facility for his depression - an inpatient place. So he just needed to get there but he was even willing to walk if he had to.

While he was trying to figure out how to get to the hospital, he went back to the library to PM us some more and to check up on his normal stuff when he went to his facebook and found an old friend had contacted him. Long story short, the friend felt the need to contact him and so she did. She and her husband paid for AJ to come to their state, and enter a local in-patient facility that was Christian!! Last I spoke to AJ, he was waiting for another pastor to pick him up to bring him to the bus station so he can start on his way to recovery.

What an amazing God. He knew just how to take people from so far away and put them together to minister to this gentleman. Now I pray that God continues to work in his life and bring him not only to a point of recover but of victory over his mental illness - to a point where he can minister to others who are in similar places. I know God has a great plan for this man and it will be a privilege to be a spectator in God working. :)

So there is a happy update. Please continue to pray for AJ as he has a long road ahead of him. Healing from depression is not easy but it is possible as we know that all things are possible with God.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

53 years ago today. 5 missionaries were slaughtered for the Gospel

Here is a video explaining the pain, the victory and God's grace.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.
- Jim Elliot

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Please pray

If you guys could pray for a man who I know as AJ. He's on a board I'm on and he's dealing with great depression. He's decided to commit suicide once some things are in place and I've been PMing with him all afternoon trying to counsel him. Normally I'd have another man do this but I honestly feel that if he reached out to me, I need to do what I can. I HAVE contacted some pastors who have tried to help him and there is prayer going up for him but it seems he's made up his mind and I have no clue who he is or where he is other than Indianapolis.

So if you could pray for AJ that God would comfort him and give him clarity to see the truth of God rather than the lies of Satan. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 5, 2009

This week's menu

OK - I need to get back on track with menu planning and general organization. Here's my menu for the week:

Sunday: rib eye steak, mashed potatoes, garlic peas
Monday: crockpot pulled pork on rolls, cole slaw, salad
Tuesday: fried chicken cutlets, mashed potatoes, green beans
Wednesday: chicken pot pie, salad
Thursday: meatloaf, mashed potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower
Friday: ravioli, salad, vegetable
Saturday: free (might be takeout or something)
Sunday: pork tenderloin, roasted veggies

We're eating a lot of mashed potatoes this week because DH LOVES them AND I got a 20 lb. bag for $5. They're thinner skin potatoes so I need to use them up a bit faster than normal. We get the potatoes from a farm on the eastern end of Long Island when we go to my ILs. A guy has them at the end of his driveway on a cart with a cash box next to them. Drop in your money and take your potatoes. :) LOVE that.

The "free" night is on Saturday but that can be changed depending on what's going on this week. If I need to take off another day, I will move that meal to Saturday. We haven't done take-out in a bit so I don't feel guilty asking for this favor for this week. It will end up being either Chinese, pizza or Mexican. :)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bible Reading Plans

Last year I started to read through the Bible in a year - knowing that I wouldn't make it in a year but hope to finish it in a year and a half. I was being honest to myself. I know myself and just decided to read through when I can. There are days I'd rather study the Word than just read so, I'm allowing myself the freedom to read through when I can. :)

But Justin Taylor has some great reading plans on his blog. If you're looking for a different way to read through the Word, check it out!