From the Kitchen of Apartment 8 – Peanut Butter Frosted Reese’s Brownies

Peanut Butter Frosted Reese’s Brownies

If you ask me, some of the best desserts involve chocolate and peanut butter!  Last night we were having friends over for dinner and I wanted to make something simple with items I had on hand and this is what I came up with!

Image

 

Brownies:

I used a dark chocolate brownie mix.  Feel free to insert your own homemade brownie recipe, but the boxed stuff worked for us!  

Frosting:

  • 3/4 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons of Room Temperature Butter
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar

Use a mixer to beat it together until the desired consistency is achieved.  Add a little milk if it’s too sticky.

After the brownies are cool, frost and top with chopped up Reese’s cups (a good way to get rid of leftover Halloween candy…though I guess on a positive note, at least we still have some leftover!) and sprinkle over the top.  My preference is to refrigerate these before serving, but room temperature works too.  Enjoy!

Advertisements

“Am I allowed to use the bathroom?”

Over the past few months since our move, opportunities to serve in ministries serving those who are homeless have been popping up like never before.  We live in a county where on average there are 84,000 people homeless per night (at least that’s the stat I hear most often).  84,000 people. That’s about 10x the number of the population of the town I grew up in.

Last week we volunteered with the Pasadena Homeless Count. All over the country there are groups of people taking part in homeless counts during the last 10 days of January.  The aim is to acquire information that will help agencies acquire funding and provide better services for the homeless.  You’re sent out in teams of 2-3 with a survey instrument and a specific zone to cover.  You can see the results from last year’s count here.

Doing something like this puts a few things in perspective.  I’m not just referring to the gratitude I have for a roof over my head, food on the table and a bed to sleep in at night (though I am thankful for those things and sadly I am quick to forget that I should be thankful for them).  My husband brought up a thought-provoking question –  We all have assumptions about what a homeless person looks like.  Can we judge whether someone is homeless without any biases or assumptions?  Is it possible?

During the count we starting talking to a man sitting on a bench with a duffel bag sitting next to him, prepared to begin the survey with him.  Question one:  “Are you homeless today?”  Man: “No.” (Awkward moment of silence).  I wonder what he was thinking – surely he realized that thought he was homeless.  He was very kind and gracious and we had a little chat and he responded very positively to what we were out doing, but still…

On Sunday at the Community Meal at church I was working at the sign-in table.  I really like working at the sign in table and engaging the guests in conversation.  I like to think that my smiling and asking how they are doing and listening if they want to talk is one small way to share a little bit of Christ’s love with them.  I can’t relate to being homeless. I don’t know what it’s like. I don’t know the challenges they face day to day. I don’t know the looks they get from people walking down the street. I don’t know about the fear they face. The dangers. But on Sunday, there was one simple question that offered me a little bit of new insight.  A man I’d never seen before signed in and said these words to me:

“Am I allowed to use the bathroom?”

He didn’t asked me where the bathroom was.  He specifically asked if he was allowed.  I was momentarily taken aback. Asking permission? Day after day he must be told he’s now allowed.  “Of course,” I answered and pointed him to the men’s room.  I hope he felt welcome. I hope the meal was a safe place for him for a couple of hours. I hope he used the bathroom again before he left for the night. I hope he comes back next time.

Meanwhile…his humble question continues to resurface in my mind. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be obedient in a very small way to the words we read in Isaiah 1:17 – “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed….”

From the Kitchen of Apartment 8 – Enchilada Pie

One day I will be the wife that has “go to” recipes for when people have babies or for when company is coming over.  However currently we’re just entering into that stage of life and so it still takes a little bit of planning to build up some default recipes.  So this week was my turn to make a post-baby meal.  These friends like mexican food and so I thought enchiladas seemed like a good option.  They make good leftovers, can be frozen if you want to eat them later, etc.

So there began my search for the perfect enchilada recipe.  I’ve made enchiladas lots of times in the past but I don’t really have a standard recipe.  Hundreds of recipes later (yes, I’m probably exaggerating), I combined my favorite aspects of many different recipes and ended up with this tasty, husband-approved enchilada pie.  Yes, I definitely made one for us before daring to take a brand new concoction to friends!  AND – bonus – we love Mexican food but I hate that it’s usually pretty light on the veggies.  Not the case with this recipe!

Enchilada Pie

Ingredients:

  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 can green enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup cooked and shredded chicken
  • 1 zucchini cut into small pieces
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Cumin
  • Shredded Cheese

Preheat the oven to 350.  Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet and saute the chopped onion.  Add in the zucchini, chicken and corn.  Sprinkle on taco seasoning and cumin to align with your flavor preferences.  While this is cooking, spread refried beans on the 4 tortillas.  (I HATE the look of refried beans so I enlisted the help of my husband to do this part).  Use a round baking dish (or pie pan…cake pan…anything round works!) and pour 1/4 can of enchilada sauce into the pan and cover the bottom.  Lay the first tortilla down (bean side up) then layer on the chicken and veggie mixture.  Top with cheese and more enchilada sauce, then cover with the next tortilla (again – beans up).  Repeat 2x (you should have 1 tortilla left at this point).  Place that tortilla (beans DOWN) over the pie.  Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove foil and bake until cheese is brown and bubbly.

Serve with sour cream and salsa or hot sauce.

I’m sorry to say that I forgot to take a picture but you’ll just have to trust me it looks and tastes delicious!  It’s definitely on the “make again” list at our house!

What I’m Reading this Month

Big excitement in my little world last week.  I got a library card!  Pasadena has a lovely library and I love just wandering through the rows looking for something that catches my eye.  Not only do I love the library, I also LOVE getting free or cheap books for my Kindle!  Check out http://www.gospelebooks.net/ for great Christian (fiction and non-fiction books).  I subscribe to them on Twitter (@gospelebooks) – easy way to find out what’s free that day!

Which brings me to what I’m reading this month…

Six Months in Sudan by by Dr. James Maskalyk

This book captivated me from page 1 – I finished it in just a few days.  This was one of those books that just jumped off the shelf at me when I was browsing at the library and I’m so glad I checked it out.

Image

Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman

Just getting into this book with my small group – really enjoying it so far!  I’m sure you’ll be seeing more about what I’m learning and pondering in future posts.

Image

Streams in the Desert by Charles Cowman

My devotion book of choice for 2013.  Other favorite devotional books are My Utmost for His Highest and Jesus Calling. Good stuff!

Image

Miss Match by Erynn Mangum

Easy to read, great fiction I like to read before bed. Cute book.  Got it for free on my Kindle!

Image

3 Days Weekends – Always Amazing and Even Better in Cali!

 

 

 

I’ve always been grateful that I’ve always worked for organizations that give MLK Day and President’s Day off.  Living most of my life in the Midwest, those 3 day weekends in January and February are pretty much good only for snuggling up at home while reading books and watching movies.  I’m thrilled that we are spending our first winter in California and we are filled with MUCH joy about the sunshine and warm weather that awaits us most days!

After an intense week at work, I was grateful for an extra day to get outside (away from the home office…errr…corner) for some fresh air and activity.  Friends had recommended we check out Eaton Canyon and after 4 1/2 months of living in Pasadena we finally made the 8 minute drive there!  It was great recommendation – a lovely place!  And after hiking about 5 miles, our muscles reminded us that we should do this a bit more often.  Eaton Canyon, you’ll see us again next weekend!
Image
Image

 

Image

From the Kitchen of Apartment 8 - Pineapple Cake

It was Friday night. We were planning a night in with a Redbox double- feature and I was in the mood to bake. And I don’t think anyone is going to argue that a yummy dessert is an excellent addition to a movie night. Plus, there’s something nice about the house smelling delicious when your husband comes home from work. (Bonus points, when you’re in the mood to bake and there’s a reason to celebrate like your husband’s excellent grades from his first quarter in seminary – why yes dear, celebrating your good grades exactly why the house smells like cake…hehe)…

However in terms of dessert I didn’t have much to work with. No chocolate chips. We had exactly 2 eggs. Less than a stick of butter. I don’t know about you, but in my opinion some of the best desserts start with butter and chocolate!

And then somewhere in the depths of the internet (I don’t remember where) I stumbled upon this fabulous cake that I most definitely will be making again!

Pineapple Cake
Cake:
1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
1 Can of Crushed Pineapple
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla

Frosting:
1 pkg of Cream Cheese
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter (softened/melted)

It’s super easy. Dump all of the cake ingredients into a bowl and mix. Pour into a 9×13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

While the cake is baking, prepare the frosting because for this cake you’re supposed to frost it straight out of the oven. For the frosting, again, dump all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a hand mixer. (I used a little less of each of the frosting ingredients because we had limited butter and an already opened package of cream cheese). Remove cake from oven and frost.

Delicious! And it tastes even better the next day cold from the fridge!

18 Resolutions

The New Year is one of my favorite times of the year.  Why? Because I LOVE making New Year Resolutions.  As the years have progressed, I’ve come to realize that I’m not really making resolutions but rather a plan for the year.  Or perhaps calling it a plan just makes me feel better about making 20 or so “resolutions”….  

No doubt about it, I’m a planner.  I used to dislike being a planner because I thought it sounded like a lot more fun to be spontaneous.  But now, I’ve embraced reality. I find great joy in making and fulfilling a plan.  I love the fresh start that comes with each new year to focus on some positive, good habits.  For me, 2012 was a CRAZY (but good…very very good!) year and so it’s time to get back on track and focused on things that are important to me.    Health, home and most importantly my relationship with Christ.

So 2013… what’s my plan for the year?

  • Read the Bible in a Year
  • Make 2 meatless dinners/week
  • Eat more veggies/less junk food
  • Save $ and go to New Zealand and/or Australia
  • More Exercise
  • Follow a cleaning schedule (posted on the fridge so I see it daily!)
  • Blog more consistently (clearly my year didn’t get off to a great start with this one…)
  • Read more books
  • Do one big “at home” project per month (cleaning closets, organizing craft supplies, new system for our recycling items, etc.)
  • Explore Cali more
  • Do a better job with meal planning
  • Invite people over 2x/month (minimum)
  • Keep in better touch with friends
  • Watch less TV
  • Read the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds with the date daily
  • No dinner in front of the TV
  • Devotions with the husband every week night
  • Reflect on/Discuss sermon after church

There’s nothing too crazy on my list this year.  Not at all like that year I wanted to drink more grapefruit juice, only to forget WHY I thought I should do that a few days later… You never know what a year will bring the one thing I do know is that I never regret making some intentional choices and it’s the little choices that can make the biggest difference.