Friday, April 29, 2011

Good News

Sometimes, in those rare moments, the sun seems to be shining right on you. That is how I've felt the past few weeks. It so rarely happens so all this good news has me on cloud nine.

A week before Easter we took the family on a long awaited vacation. We hadn't gone for over a year and a half, partly because of the economy and partly because it was just too hard to get away. So to make up for it, we took a long vacation. First stop was Danville, Va, my home town. There are no words to describe how much I had missed it. I think it was even a surprise to me how much. I finally got to take my kids to Skatetown USA where I skated every week growing up. We ate at Pete's Pizza, who has the best pizza ever (at least in my limited experience!). For only being there a day and a half, we fit a lot in.

Then it was off to Outer Banks for a week. We hadn't been there for over 6 years so my youngest, who is 7, didn't remember it. The look on his face when he saw the ocean was priceless and worth all the effort getting there.

On the way back, we stopped in Winchester, VA. Not as southern as it used to be but still nice. You may think we are strange, but we love the Mt. Hebron Cemetary. The history is unbelievable. And the Virginia Farm market is a definite each time we are there.

Overall, we drove over 600 miles. We even fit in a half hour stop in Williamsburg, which had the only down point of the trip. We saw they are tearing down part of the pottery. Very sad. I grew up going to the pottery every year on my family vacation. We decided that next vacation, we are going back to visit Willamsburg.

While we were on vacation, I got an email from our adoption counselor. They have two kids, ages 3 (girl) and 4 (boy), they want us to take as a respite situation, until their pre adoptive mom can decide if she can adopt them or not. She may not be able to adopt them because of a changed family situation. It's hard to balance my joy of finally having kids in our home with her loss. She is one brave lady to put the kids first and to try to decide if she can let them go. But while she decides, we can care for them and pray for the best decision for everyone.

And last but not least, it looks like my brother may be on schedule to come home from his deployment next month. Yippeeee! He is thrilled to be finally done (and safe). They have a virus going around the ship which he caught so I haven't been able to talk too much to him lately, but I was able to email him about us being there to meet his ship next month. All the arrangements still need to be made (special passes to get on base, hotels, etc) but if it all goes well, we will get to see him come off the ship.

I am so glad to be able to share all the good news, for a change. Although I know things will calm down soon, just to finally have good things happen feels so wonderful.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cherry Fluff

Yes, I am a little nuts about the fluff these past two weeks! But I just feel the need to have something light and airy after the long winter. Plus, it's so easy to make and to eat. This is a great dessert just to have around or to take to some of those first picnics of the season.

Cherry Fluff

21 ounces cherry pie filling
8 ounces Cool Whip
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained

1 cup of chopped pecans, if desired

Mix all ingredients together and refridgerate for at least two hours. Serve.

"Break open a cherry tree and there are no flowers, but the spring breeze brings forth myriad blossoms."
-Ikkyu Sojun

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fluffy Key Lime Pie

With the weather up and down all the time now, it's hard to know if I need a sweater or a short sleeve top each day! But I know it's getting warmer when I get the urge to make light desserts. And warm weather always makes me think of fluff. I'm not sure if that is the formal name for these types of desserts, but to me fluff is anything made out of whipped cream, jello or pudding mix and some type of citrus flavor. Since I bought key limes last week, this pie was the natural choice. It's light, sweet and tangy. Perfect for those warm nights.

Fluffy Key Lime Pie

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 pkg.(8 oz) Lime Flavored jello

2 tsp. grated lime zest

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (use bottled if needed)

1 large container whipped cream, thawed to room temp.

1 Graham Pie Crust

In a bowl, pour 1 cup of the boiling water over the jello. Stir until dissolved. Add an additional 1/2 cup of ice. Let melt, stirring as needed. Stir in the zest and key lime juice. Add the whipped cream, folding until completely mixed. Pour into crust. Cover lightly and place in freezer for 1/2 to 1 hour or until firm. Serve. Keep cold.
"Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability." -Sam Keen

Thursday, April 7, 2011

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

Sometimes, I just get the most awful cravings for oatmeal. I'll eat it straight, meaning as a cereal. McCain's makes a wonderful Irish oatmeal that is very good. But more often than not, I like my oatmeal in something sweet along with chocolate, butter and lots of sugar! I love the chewy texture it gives cookies, cakes and bars. This recipe makes very chewy oatmeal bars. And it's no bake which I like. Easy and quick and it really satisfies that craving.

No Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

1 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter

Grease a 9x9 inch square pan. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Mix in the oats. Cook over low heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until ingredients are well blended. Press half of mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Reserve the other half for topping. Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Pour the chocolate mixture over the crust in the pan, and spread evenly with a knife or the back of a spoon. Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the chocolate layer, pressing in gently. Cover, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before cutting into bars.

"Anticipate the difficult by managing the easy." -Lao Tzu

Friday, April 1, 2011

Homemade Georgia Peach Ice Cream

An update on my brother in the Navy: I've heard from my brother several times through email since I last posted. Whew! I was very relieved. Apparently, the Navy has sent a ship to relieve the Kearsarge (I learned this from the news) so the Kearsarge may be heading back to port soon. The ship personnel is great about posting updates via Facebook and I've even had the chance to talk to one of the ombudsmen who help the families of those on board with information. It was good to talk to them. They were calm and reassuring.

Thank you to all of you for your thoughts, prayers and very kind words of support this past week. You can't know how much it means to me to know that you all were thinking and praying for us. It was like getting a big hug every time I thought of you all, which was a lot.

On to the sweet stuff now! I know it's probably still cold where most of you live (it is here, it's snowing right now), but that little taste of summer we had last week up here had me thinking about all the great summertime recipes I want to make. I had some peaches from our tree last year that I froze in Fall on hand too. I usually love making peach cobbler, but I came across a recipe for peach ice cream that got rave reviews, so I changed plans and tried it. Yum! There is nothing like homemade!

Homemade Georgia Peach Ice Cream

2 1/2 pounds fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup white sugar
1 pint half-and-half cream

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups whole milk, or as needed

Puree peaches with the sugar and half-and-half in batches in a blender or food processor. In a gallon ice cream freezer container, mix together the peach mixture, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Pour in enough whole milk to fill the container to the fill line, about 2 cups. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to freeze the ice cream.

Tips- You can make this ice cream a little sweeter by adding up to 1/2 cup more sugar. Cooling the container first will help the ice cream harden faster

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." -Albert Camus