Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Taco Soup

At the request of some of my Facebook friends, today’s recipe is Taco Soup. There are several versions of this out there so you may already have something similar in your recipe box. I can’t exactly claim this one to be from my family archives but I can say that it is a current family favorite. Easy to put together and a fast fix after work. Of course crackers are always good with soup but we like to switch things up a bit and substitute tortilla chips or corn chips. Some of the more adventurous even add grated cheese and sour cream. Whatever floats your boat….or fills up your soup bowl!

Taco Soup


2 lb. ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning * 
1 ½ cups water (I add a bit more ‘cause I like lots of broth!)
1 15 oz can mild chili beans
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can pinto beans
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can Rotel (I use the mild, but use original if you like your stuff spicier)
1 envelope Ranch salad dressing

Brown ground beef and drain off excess grease. Put beef and remaining ingredients in a large dutch oven, stir to mix well and bring to boil at medium high. Reduce heat to simmer and allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes.

*I recently found a recipe for homemade seasoning. I'll post it in a day or so once I track down the source so I can give proper credit!

Hmmm….no blast from the past memories with this one. (Guess we are making tomorrow’s memories.) Who knows, perhaps one of my grandchildren will one day share their memories about our family times triggered by a steaming bowl of Taco Soup!

Hugs and Happy cooking,

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Disappointed With God

The words pierced my heart. I had been diligently working through the Jonah study by Priscilla Shirer. I was learning. I was absorbing the teaching. All good stuff but up nothing life stopping.

Until that day.

“Have you ever been disappointed with God about an outcome He has allowed?”

Oh my, yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Like a flash flood that sends roaring waters downstream, all of the emotions from the past several months came crashing over me. I felt like I was drowning yet again.

It had been hard - no, actually impossible - to understand why He allowed another marriage to fall apart leaving precious children in the fallout. Yet, even as I wrote those words in my journal that day I was reminded that there are thousands upon thousands of broken relationships with even more children suffering in the aftermath. How else could I truly understand the pain and consequences unless I experience that pain as well?

There were logical reasons why I was disappointed with God. A betrayal brought pain to those I love the most. Children are now forced to live the broken lifestyle of sharing time with parents and bouncing from one home to another. Their stability was shattered due to the actions of others.

But my human logic does not equal God’s ways.

I must remember God still gives us the free will to do what we want, even when it grieves His heart and causes pain for us and others. Yet He is gracious, kind and compassionate, abundant in steadfast love. He is willing and waiting to bring about His good in spite of our poor choices.

With desire for comfort, for things to go smoothly, for good health and harmonious relationships deeply imbedded in our human psyche and living in a society where entitlement is preached until we are brainwashed, it is difficult to come to terms with our trials and heartaches. God’s ways are so far above ours that most of the time it is impossible for us to understand.

However, when we trust Him and lean into Him for our strength during the difficult times, not only does He help us walk through it, He uses the trial and our faith walk to reach and encourage others.

That day became a turning point in my journey through and out of this particular disappointment with God. I knew I had a choice to make. Was I going to continue to moan and whine, consumed by the loss of the dream? Or was I going to choose to look for how God will use these events to mold each of us into the person He desires us to be?

I made the choice to accept His truth that I must let go of the why. After all, I know that I will never be satisfied with His answer to that one because I want comfort, happiness and the happy ever after fairy tale. I must let go of the what might have been thoughts, the dream of a solid marriage and secure family unit and trust Him to redeem what was lost. Trust Him to bring beauty from the ashes.

Not simply to trust Him but to actively look for His love at work. After all, He is the Redeemer!

...But He said, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That’s why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:9-10 (NIV)

Hugs from a wounded but victorious sojourner,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Chewy Peanut Butter Bars

My family and friends will tell you that I am crazy about anything and everything peanut butter. I mean, does it get any better?! I found this recipe in a magazine over thirty years ago and it quickly became a favorite treat. Somehow over the years as my collection of recipes has grown, this one seems to have fallen to the back of the box. I’m glad I rediscovered it and can’t wait to bake a pan of these yummy and moist treats.

Chewy Peanut Butter Bars


1/3 cup butter, softened (yep, I use the REAL thing! Everything’s better with butter.)
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
½ cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut

Cream butter, sugar, and peanut butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, beating well. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into sugar mixture until just blended. Stir in the coconut. Spread dough evenly in a greased 13 x 9 baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

You know I am all about the memories that are made when I cook. So I can’t leave a recipe post without sharing a bit. I found this recipe during the first months after we moved away from all of our family for my husband to start a new job. I had never lived more than an hour away from my parents and was truly a ‘mountain girl’! Needless to say I had more than one bout of being homesick that first winter.

However, I have many more memories of happy times exploring our new community, making new friends, and taking care of my family. When I think about baking Chewy Peanut Butter Bars, I think about two little boys with big smiles and crumbs on their faces. About my husband’s hugs and quiet thank you after a long day at work. About the many ways God’s faithfulness was revealed to us during a time of little money and lots of bills.

A long time ago, yet it seems like just yesterday. All because of a recipe.

Hugs and Happy cooking,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Mexican Cornbread

Fall is in the air and I am ready to get back in the kitchen! For me, a big pot of chili is the official kickoff to the season. Many times we simply eat crackers, corn chips or tortilla chips with our chili. However, when I have more time in the kitchen this cornbread with a Mexican twist is our must have side dish. It is more like a spoon bread than regular cornbread but I guarantee you won’t mind not being able to hold it in your hand! As we Viars like to say, “It is SOME kind of good!”

Mexican Corn Bread


1 cup yellow corn meal                         1 small can green chilies, chopped and drained
2 eggs                                                  1 can cream style corn
1 tsp baking soda                                 ½ tsp salt
4 oz grated cheese                                ½ cup buttermilk
½ cup vegetable oil

In a medium bowl stir together corn meal, baking soda & salt. (You could also use a corn meal mix that already has those ingredients. I done both with good results.) In a separate bowl beat eggs, then add corn, buttermilk, oil, and chilies. Mix well, then stir in grated cheese. Pour into a well greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

*I inherited this recipe from my husband’s Aunt Helena. We had dropped by for a visit when she shared some with us and, like many good cooks, she was happy to pass along the recipe. I still have the original small slip of paper I scribbled it on and think of her every time I pull it out of my recipe box. It’s like I can go back to her kitchen and feel the love. That piece of paper somehow connects me to her and that precious memory which probably explains why I have never written it down anyplace else.

For me, that’s what cooking is all about….making memories and sharing life and love.

Happy cooking,

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Reflection of 9/11 (one of thousands)

Everywhere I turn this week I am bombarded with reminders of 9/11/2001. Television, radio, internet, newspapers….it seems to be the only topic covered in the news. I admit I have mixed feelings about the media blitz of that catastrophic event. While I agree that it is important to remember those lost in the tragedy and the thousands of people impacted by the event and the aftermath, I wonder if it is fulfilling the intended purpose. (Do I really know the intended purpose or is it another of my false perceptions?) We should pause to reflect on sacrifices made and the price paid for our freedom, whether it is on September 11 or December 7, Veterans Day or Memorial Day. I believe it helps us keep things in a proper perspective, remembering what the most important part of life is truly. However, I also realize that too much reflection on a past tragedy can have the opposite effect. Instead of allowing it to pull me back to center I can let it lead me to negative emotions as I relive the event over and over again through the images I see and words I hear. This week I have seen both reactions in myself and others. So what do we do with these conflicting emotions and thoughts? What do we do as Christians? What do we do as Americans? One thing is certain. We will face trying times in the future. There is no get out of jail free card in life. And even though we Americans seem to live our lives with the ill conceived idea that we are somehow more special and should never have to face bad times or attacks on our country and our way of life, we are no more immune from tragedy than are the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, or the Sudan. I was struck by this quote by Daniel Darling in his article “Leadership Lesson from 9/11” posted yesterday morning on www.crosswalk.com And so as we think back on 9/11 and move forward, we should be wise to vote for leaders who we’d want leading us in a time of trouble and we’d be wise to allow Christ to develop in us the character necessary to lead well where we are called. I believe at least one of the answers to the question of what to do is wrapped up well here. When the next time of extreme trouble hits America, we need leaders who can guide us in and through it. We need to look for those traits when choosing who to vote for. On the other hand, we can’t depend on one or more leaders to get us through. He or she cannot possibly be everywhere. God may place one of us in a position of leadership, whether it is in our community, our church, or maybe simply in our family. The time of preparation is before trouble hits. May we be learning our lessons well and developing the character needed to lead when called. Hugs, Molly
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