A few weeks ago in our Sunday School class, one of the pastors at our church and his wife did a 3 week series on Marriage.  Much of what they taught was from the book “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” (a book which keeps popping up in conversation all over the place – it’s on my list to read!).  They shared with us a tool that Than and I have committed to work through weekly.  Basically, it’s just intentional information sharing.  Every Saturday morning we are making a point to sit down and do this…though sometimes it’s Saturday afternoon or evening by the time we actually do it!  Like last night over dinner…at PF Changs…our favorite – YUM!

Here’s how it works – each person shares whatever is on their mind from each category and you just share back and forth.  For the most part it isn’t intended to really dive into the issues that are brought up or solve any issues.   It’s a great chance to practice your listening skills!

Appreciations or Excitements

Worries, Concerns or Puzzles

Complaints and Possible Solutions

New Information

Hopes/Wishes

It’s really fun to see the information that comes out in this – it definitely covers topics that we might otherwise miss out on if we weren’t intentionally going through this exercise.  The new information is the hardest for us because our current situation in life has us spending a lot of time together.  But I’ll let you in on a little secret – keep in mind that you’ll be having this conversation on Saturday and save a little tidbit of information to share – easy as that!  Why not give it a try? It’s a great way to continue to build connection and goodwill in your marriage.

Healthy Ingredient Swap – Pancakes

I’m on a mission to cut the amount of carbs we eat.  I’m not being obsessive by any means – just trying to eat less carbs and more protein, fruits and veggies.  Because I really enjoy cooking I thought that cutting carbs would be really limiting, but I’m actually finding that it’s quite fun to get creative and come up with some alternative options.  And it helps that we’re not fully cutting them out of our diet – just cutting down on the amounts which I think is probably best for a sustainable healthy lifestyle.

My latest attempt was to make a carb loaded breakfast favorite a little more healthy.  I mixed and matched several recipes for healthy pancakes (and maybe added a couple of things of my own) and here’s what I came up with.  Now don’t expect a fluffy buttermilk  pancake.  These a bit more dense, loaded with protein and I think they’re delicious!

Pancakes

  • 1 Cup Greek Yogurt with Honey
  • 1 TBSP Butter (softened)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 1/4 cup Flax Meal
  • 1/2 cup Almond Meal

Mix the wet ingredients, then pour in the dry ingredients, mixing well. The batter will be quite sticky.  Melt some butter in a non-stick skillet and cook the pancake for about 2 minutes per side.  Feel free to use your spatula to shape the batter into circles if you like your pancakes to be perfectly round.

Top with your toppings of choice and enjoy!  I actually could just eat these plain.  But when I’m in the mood for sweet, my personal favorite toppings are either Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter or The Peanut Butter Co Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter.  Of course honey, or maple syrup are other great options. Yum!

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A Loaf of Cinnamon Bread

 Every week local grocery stores donate bread that’s getting close to the sell-by date for the Sunday Community meal.  From loaves of white sliced bread to kalamata olive focaccia to Ezekiel bread we receive quite the assortment.  My primary role during the evening is manning the check-in and bread table each week (for the most part). Every week one of the guests looks for cinnamon raisin bread – his favorite.  In spite of the huge variety, we never get cinnamon raisin bread.  Cinnamon raisin English muffins – yes, but not bread.

 
So today I was setting out all the bread – mostly hamburger and hot dog buns.  I guess people didn’t have as many Labor Day weekend cookouts as expected?  Anyway… there in the middle of what seemed like hundreds of packages of white enriched hot dog and hamburger buns was a loaf of delicious looking (and smelling) cinnamon bread.  
 
I was SO excited.  I quickly put it aside for this particular guest.  We don’t usually do that…but I just couldn’t resist!
 
Every time the elevator doors opened I looked to see if he was going to be in the group exiting.  I waited, and waited…and finally there he was!  I was ready to jump out of my chair to give him this loaf of bread, but don’t worry, I kept my cool.  He made it the the front of the line to sign in and I presented him with the fragrant loaf of cinnamon bread.
 
His response? I don’t have a toaster.
 
It was so anti-climatic.  Such a letdown. He thanked me and took the bread. Week after week we make small talk about cinnamon raisin bread and toast…and that’s how it ended. What I hoped would be a little extra blessing to brighten his week was really nothing more than another stark reminder of what he doesn’t have.
 
Sometimes reality is harsh. It can be disappointing. For many the barriers are numerous and overwhelming.  But  I choose to believe that little things can soften the harshness of reality in some way, for sometimes it’s the littlest things that give us just the glimmer of hope we need.

From the Kitchen of Apartment 8 – Corn Flake Crunch French Toast

I love Saturday morning breakfast. It might be my favorite meal of the week. Rolling out of bed whenever I want and then lounging around in my pajamas and enjoying my favorite breakfast foods…it makes for a great, relaxing morning!

Inspired by some amazing corn flake crusted French Toast I had at Marston’s, a restaurant here in Pasadena, I decided to create my own French Toast concoction. I’m a big texture person and I love the crunch in this recipe!

Double Dipped Corn Flake Crunch French Toast

Ingredients:

6 Hawaiian Rolls
2 Eggs
2 Cups of Corn Flakes
1 tsp Vanilla
2 tsp Cinnamon Sugar
2 TBSP Milk
Butter

In one small bowl, beat the egg, vanilla, milk and cinnamon sugar together (Adjust to your taste preferences – I don’t usually measure!). Crunch up the Corn Flakes in another small bowl. Cut the rolls in half (like if you were making a sandwich out of them). Dip each roll half in egg mixture until both sides are covered, dip in corn flakes, then dip in the egg mixture again. Repeat until all roll halves are covered. Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in a pan and fry until crunch and golden brown, flipping about halfway through. Serve with syrup or honey and a hot cup of coffee with lots of milk! Yum!

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What’s Cookin’ in the Kitchen

I don’t know if this ever happens to you, but sometimes I have these “When it rains, it pours” weeks in the kitchen.  I sign up too cook for someone or something and then suddenly every surrounding day has something or someone to cook for. 

 Birthday treats, a Fall Kick Off Party, breakfast treats for our Sunday School class, new friends coming for dinner, post-baby meal for another friend…all in a matter of a few days!  Don’t get me wrong.  I have learned that I really enjoy cooking – I just dislike the grocery store aspect of all that cooking!  From Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake bars, to my Mom’s amazing Caramel corn, to enchiladas, salads and Raspberry Lemon coffee cake, there’s lots of yummy scents wafting from the kitchen!
 
I’ll share some more recipes in future days, but here’s one to tide you over.
 
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Bars
 
Crust
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup melted butter
2 TBSP sugar
 
Filling
1 package of cream cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate-peanut butter chips
 
Topping
Miniature Reese’s Cups
 
Instructions
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar.  Press into an 8×8″, greased baking dish.  Bake for 5-7 minutes.  In a mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla.  Fold in chocolate peanut butter chips (feel free to add a little more than 1/2 a cup if you like!)  Pour mixture over the baked crust and sprinkled miniature Reese’s cups over the top.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until filling is set.  Let cool and refrigerate before serving.
 
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Montana Trip

It’s the time of year when anticipation of fall is in the air.  People are pinning pumpkin recipes, sweaters and boots like crazy.  Meanwhile Than and I have moved our mattress to the living room (where there’s an A/C) to deal with the ongoing 98 degree weather!  

We’re playing catch up this week with work and school after a few days in Montana for Anita (Than’s sister) and John’s wedding.  It was a fun and exhausting few days!  It was great to see so many family members who are all spread out across the country (and world) together in one place for a fabulous celebration of a lovely couple.
 
Moments of downtime were filled with catching up and playing with and cuddling the nieces and nephews.  We visited World Museum of Mining in Butte, followed by a girls night out complete with pedicures and dinner topped off with ordering every dessert off the menu and passing them around until they were gone.  We spend time decorating and preparing the reception hall, we enjoyed the hotel pool and hot tub.
 
The wedding was at a beautiful Orthodox church.  Thanks to Than for the awesome panoramic photo.
 
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Here’s a picture of new Mr. and Mrs.!
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And post wedding trolley transportation – awesome!
 
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When the wedding festivities were over we took a day trip down to Yellowstone.  We arrived at Old Faithful just 10 minutes before it erupted (not sure if erupted is the proper term!).  Many had been waiting for over an hour, so we were thankful for such good timing!  The park is beautiful.  The geothermal activity creates some really beautiful colors and sites.  And of course gigantic bison right next to your car and elk lounging nearby always add to the fun adventure!
 
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It was a great trip, but it’s nice to be home!  One more day until the weekend!  I’m ready!