Friday, February 29, 2008

Blooming Buds!!

Russell & I are no less than AMAZED at how much and how quickly our Orchid has bloomed!
This is in less than a month! And it requires no attention! I think we've watered twice...that's it!

Early February:

Late February:

Thank you, Honey!!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Aunt Ora's Fresh Apple Cake

I've been waiting since November for an opportunity to take breakfast to our community group! I finally got our names on the sign-up sheet for this passed Sunday!! I tried this fresh apple cake that one of Russell's aunts baked at our Thanksgiving gathering, and I wanted a chance to make it for our friends. It was a hit!! So, if you were in community group this Sunday, and you liked the breakfast, here's the recipe! It's been in Russell's mom's family at least 4 generations...I can taste why! :)
2.5 Cups Flour
2 Cups Sugar
1 Cup Shortening or Butter
4 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Allspice
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1-2 Tablespoons Vanilla
1/2 Cup Warm Water
3 Medium Apples - peeled and chopped
1/2 Cup Raisins (optional)
Mix sugar and shortening with mixer. Add eggs one at a time, using mixer. Blend in cinnamon, allspice, soda and vanilla. Add flour and water. Stir in chopped apples & raisins (optional). Bake in greased bundt pan at 350 50-60 minutes.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Oatmeal Whole Wheat Quick Bread

Fresh, healthy bread, anyone?
This bread recipe is much like the whole wheat baguette at Panera Bread...super healthy with high fiber! It's best right out of the crispy crust all around, soft and warm on the inside. Mmmmmmmmmmm....
I made the mistake of thinking this was going to be sweet and dessert-like, but remember that it's 'quick bread,' more like a sandwich or dinner bread. Russell and I sweetened it up with a lot of butter and honey! :)

Original recipe yield: 1 loaf

2 cups rolled oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup milled flax seed, optional
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons vanilla flavoring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grind oatmeal in a food processor or blender. In a large bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and milled flax seeds. In a separate bowl, dissolve honey in vegetable oil then stir in the milk and vanilla. Combine both mixtures and stir until a soft dough is formed. Dump the dough into a lightly oiled loaf pan.
Bake in preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until bottom of loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Oh, the BEST of Surprises!! Thank you, Russell!!

You cannot know how you've just made my day! You were just out of town! How could you just walk through my office door with this HUGE box of chocolates?!?! God absolutely astonishes me of HIS love for me through you!
Thank you!
I praise our Lord for how He blesses me through your thoughtfulness!
I love you!

Happy Valentine's Day!!

I was thinking about Valentine's Day yesterday...I've always 'just celebrated' it because it was the 'thing to do.' It's always been fun, and the candy's absolutely a 'given'!! :)
This morning, however, I have a new appreciation for the holiday. Perhaps because I'm married this Valentine's. God has opened my eyes in a deeper way so that I see this day as a special day to LOVE & APPRECIATE the people in my life!
BIG HUG to you on this Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The 'Wright' Salsa

Russell has edited and I think 'perfected' a salsa recipe that everyone raves about! It has a great 'kick,' and is not sweet like lots of other salsas out there.

Releasing the 'Wright' family salsa recipe...

-2 cans of stewed tomatoes (Del Monte Mexican recipe)
-2 cans of Rotel tomatoes
-1/2 can of black beans, optional
-1/2 can of whole kernel corn, optional
-1 handful fresh cilantro or 1 Tablespoon dried cilantro
-juice of one lime
-1 Tablespoon cumin (this adds the 'bite')
-1 Tablespoon garlic powder
-1 Teaspoon salt (or not; you can always add, but can't take away!!)
a) Strain the stewed tomatos, then blend to desired consistency (blender works perfectly)
b) Strain the rotel, then add to mix
c) Rinse thoroughly and strain black beans and corn, then add to mix (for chunkier salsa)
d) Add all remaining ingredients
e) Stir and serve at room temperature
f) Refrigerate leftovers...if any.


My New Hobby - Reading...Hopefully for Edification Purposes!!

And the Shofar Blew
by Francine Rivers

I just finished this book, and I highly recommend it! It shares the Gospel over & over in the midst of real-life experiences, or 'human blunders.' It's encouraging, as the author ties in Scripture that you'll remember and be encouraged to share with others in need.
Here's the author's synopsis:
In the Old Testament, God called his people to action with the blast of the shofar, a ram's horn. God still calls his people today. In this relevant and timely contemporary novel, dynamic young preacher Paul Hudson is committed to building his church--but at what cost? As Paul's zeal and ambition build, he loses sight of the One who called him. As Paul and those around him struggle to discern what it truly means to live out their faith, they must ultimately choose between their own will or God's plan.

Cuban Midnight Sandwiches

I found this recipe at All Recipes, and it was perfect for an easy & yummy dinner so that we could focus on fellowshipping with our great company last night!
We actually changed up the recipe just a little - using Basil Pesto, rather than the Italian dressing or mustard, and substituting Mozzarella & Pepper Jack cheeses for the Swiss. We just pressed them in our George Forman grill, and "Voila!" Easy Panini-Style Cuban Sandwiches, loaded with meat and cheese! :)

We served the sandwiches with Johnny Ray's Cole Slaw and, of course, Russell's homemade salsa and tortilla chips! Everyone seemed delighted, so we recommend it!

READY IN: 25 Min
SERVINGS: 4 sandwiches

1 cup mayonnaise
5 tablespoons Italian dressing
4 hoagie rolls, split lengthwise
4 tablespoons prepared mustard
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli turkey meat
1/2 pound thinly sliced cooked ham
1/2 pound thinly sliced Swiss cheese
1 cup dill pickle slices
1/2 cup olive oil

In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise and Italian dressing. Spread mixture on hoagie rolls. Spread each roll with mustard. On each roll, arrange layers of turkey, ham, and cheese. Top each with dill pickle slices. Close sandwiches, and brush tops and bottoms with olive oil.
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Place sandwiches in skillet. Cook sandwiches for 2 minutes, pressing down with a plate covered with aluminum foil. Flip, and cook for 2 more minutes, or until cheese is melted. Remove from heat, place on plates, and cut in half diagonally.

Friday, February 8, 2008

A New Dining Experience

Russell is driving to Arkansas today, camping and kayaking with his friend Chris Kear for the weekend, to return home Sunday evening. I'm going to our MBCC women's retreat in just a few hours through Saturday night! We're eager to be with our friends and excited to delight in whatever the Lord has in store for us this weekend, even being apart from one another!
Of course, having gone on a sweet date night last night sure encouraged our hearts, knowing that we'd be apart this weekend. We tried out a new place in town, Newk's! Birmingham already has two locations - downtown and Hwy 280, near Whole Foods. Their menu is so broad, ranging from various fun salads to pizzas with all kinds of yummy toppings to sandwiches with the works!! Russell enjoyed the Italian Toasted Sandwich...lots of yummy Italian meats, and I delighted in a combo salad & sandwich - I chose the half "Simply Salad" with the Sherry Vinaigrette dressing (YUM!) and the Grilled Chicken Pesto Toasted Sandwich. It was yum!
I'd recommend going at least once, but I think I'd like to go again and try one of the pizzas! Man, they looked great!
Have a great weekend!!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

My Orchid

I came home last Tuesday night, and Russell surprised me with this beautiful Orchid and gift certificates to Panera and Starbuck's! He's a sweetheart! I just have to brag on him and how thoughtful he is! I'd had a rough day, and he had no idea! God is so good to us in those small but very real ways.
I'm learning how to nurture and care for our little Orchid, now! :)