Sunday, April 24, 2011

Resurrection Rolls & Resurrection Cookies

The last few Easter Sundays, I have posted the recipe and instruction for Resurrection cookies, an activity that you can do with your children to help explain the Easter story.  You can find all the information HERE on my blog.  This activity is great for younger and older kids, but it may seem a little overwhelming in the midst of all your other Easter preparations.  Another recipe that is a lot simpler, especially when you are trying to keep  young children engaged, is for Resurrection Rolls.  We made the rolls this morning and they tasted so good!!

I love that even my teenager will participate with a smile in all of our holiday rituals.  This morning, as the kids hunted for their baskets for quite a while (Dad is a good "hider") and we made our Resurrection rolls, I had a sense that all the preparation and time expended on these activities is more than worthwhile.  I think they will remember our family traditions, the significance behind them, and I hope it will grow their faith.  Simple word pictures are sometimes the best way to remember significant truths.  I still find this to be true in my own life. 

Maybe one day they will remember when they have families of their own.  Can you tell I am feeling a little nostalgic today?  So, here goes...

Resurrection Rolls

1 can of refrigerated biscuits
1 package of large marshmallows, (must be fresh; stale ones won't work)
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Melt butter in a microwavable bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.

Have the children each take a marshmallow.  Jesus was pure and sinless which is represented by the white marshmallow.

Now have the children roll the marshmallow in the butter.  After Jesus died on the cross, they anointed his body with oil.

Next, roll the marshmallow in the cinnamon sugar mixture.  This represents the spices that were put on Jesus' body before they placed him in the tomb.

Take one biscuit and flatten it with your fingers. Wrap the biscuit around the marshmallow and seal it very carefully.  Make sure it completely sealed.  Jesus was placed in the tomb and they rolled a large stone in front of it to seal it.

Roll the ball of dough in the cinnamon sugar mixture and place it on the cookie sheet.  Be sure and place them, seal side down, so the marshmallow doesn't expand and puff out the top.

Bake the biscuit tombs in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until browned on the outside.  Remind the children that Jesus was sealed up in the tomb for three days.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good!"

Finally, remove the biscuits from the oven.  Let cool slightly and encourage them to break open the tomb.  Where is Jesus?  He has risen!  The rolls taste sweet.  Easter is a sweet time because Christ died for us and then three days after the cross, he arose so that we also can have a new life in Him!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Passover, Easter and Chocolate Nests

Chocolate Nest with Candy Eggs

It is the blessed Easter Week and...
Sunday is coming! 

I love Easter and hold the sacredness of this holiday close to my heart.  I eschew the Easter bunny in favor of Our Risen Lord and the price he paid on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.  Easter IS a time of renewal, of spring bunnies and chicks, of chocolate eggs and hopeful beginnings, BUT it is so much more.  Easter means Resurrection, hope and newness of life.  It means when we trust Jesus to save us from ourselves, one day we will be resurrected with him, with all believers, for an eternity of joy and peace.  No more sadness.

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  Rev. 21:4

Because I am in such desperate need to be saved...because I can not go one day without selfishness and sin, I am all the more grateful for a perfect God who lowered himself to become man, and though was tempted in every way, remained sinless and then sacrificed himself in my place.  It is sometimes hard to conceptualize that sacrifice, to really feel the weight of the sin that entangles me and then realize the penalty that had to be paid.

This is why tonight our family will celebrate Passover.  Technically, Passover is a Jewish holiday, a tradition of remembrance of God's deliverance out of slavery in Egypt.  But what does that have to do with Easter?  In fact, the Last Supper was Christ celebrating the passover meal with his disciples. Do you remember those Sunday school stories about Moses?  Oh, yes!  "Set my people free."    God sent plagues that reigned down on Pharaoh and his people because he refused to listen to Moses and obey God by setting the Israelites free.  Each plague was sent to show God's power and to give Pharaoh a chance to repent.  Finally, the last plague was the death of the first born son of every living thing in Egypt.  The angel of death was coming to destroy.  But the people were given a way of escape. 

A continual story of a JUST God full of MERCY making a way for man.  If they sacrificed an innocent, blameless lamb and wiped the blood on the door posts, the angel would "pass over" the house and spare the life inside.

Can you imagine?

We have a baby girl who adores animals.  You remember the pictures from The Little House on the Prairie Party.  Remember her holding the baby goat in her arms.  Last night as she lay in bed, we were discussing the Passover story.  She reached out her hand to me and said, "I could not cut that baby lamb, Mommy."  I looked her in the eyes. 

"What if you had to do that every time you did something wrong?  Would you want to try and stop doing wrong things?"

She replied, "But I can't stop doing wrong things!"  Oh, sweet baby girl is right!  We can not stop doing wrong things, as much as we may try.  The number of innocent sacrifices would be too many to count.  But a JUST God full of MERCY made a way for you and me.  One perfect sacrifice.  God in flesh.  No more are needed.  It is finished.

"When he had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.' With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." John 19:30

We will have our Passover Seder tonight.  Our family will gather around the coffee table and follow the order of the Seder service.  We will wash each other's feet, I will light the Seder candles, "baby girl" will ask the four questions, we will break the bread and drink from the cup.  We will remember and be so thankful that the sacrifice is complete and it is indeed finished!

Chocolate Nests

1 can  sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)

1 package of (16 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1 large bag  (12 oz each) of  chow mein noodles
Chocolate Easter candies eggs

Line two baking sheets with waxed paper. Lightly coat with nonstick spray.  Pour condensed milk into a medium microwave-safe bowl; add chocolate chips. Place in microwave on high 30 seconds, stir, and heat again for 30 seconds.  Repeat until chips melt and mixture is blended and smooth.  Put noodles into a large bowl, pour the chocolate mixture over the noodles and toss with a rubber spatula until noodles are coated.

Drop generous 1⁄2 cups on prepared baking sheets. Lightly spray fingertips with nonstick spray. Form mounds into nests making a depression in the center to hold candies. When the nests begin to set, fill with candies.  Enjoy!

Do you want to learn how to host a Christian Passover Seder?  Visit Chosen People Minsitries.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fish Tacos with Jalapeno Cilantro Ranch Sauce

Fish Tacos with Cilantro Ranch Dressing

Want a nice summer dinner idea?  This dish is fairly easy and super yummy.  In fact, the whole family likes it.  Fish tacos are really popular right now, but I don't always want to wait for a night that we can go out to dinner.  I enjoy making the dish at home and making it often in the summer months.  I can add some fruit and it feels like a light summer menu.  I hope you will try this recipe.  The Jalapeno-Cilantro ranch sauce is really easy to make and you can prepare it ahead of time.  Just keep it in a closed container in the refrigerator and in theory, it should last about a week.  We love to dip our tortilla chips in it all weekend, so it doesn't last long in our house.

Up close and personal!

Fish Tacos
 1 quart oil for frying

1 pound tilapia fillets, cut into 2 to 3 ounce portions 1 package of Fish fry mix
1 teaspoon cajun seasoning
1 cup milk
1 (12 ounce) package corn tortillas
1/2 medium head cabbage, finely shredded
I avocado

1 tomatos, diced
Jalapeno-Cilantro ranch sauce

Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Place the milk and fish fry mix in seperate bowls.  Add the cajun seasoning to the fish fry mix.  Dip fish pieces in the milk and then dredge them into the fry mix.  Fry until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels.  

Spray a skillet with oil and then warm the corn tortillas by turning them once or twice over low heat.  To serve, place fried fish in a tortilla, and top with shredded cabbage, tomatoes, avocado and jalapeno cilantro ranch sauce.


Simple, fresh ingredients for the Jalapeno-Cilantro Ranch Sauce.

Jalapeno-Cilantro Ranch Sauce

1 packet  Hidden Valley Ranch Traditional Dressing mix
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, stemmed and chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno
 If you like it spicy, use the whole jalapeno.  If you like it super spicy, leave in the seeds.  It's up to you.  Mix all ingredients together in the blender. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Spicy Shrimp & Cheese Grits and Letters from Out of the Blue!

Jackie Melton Wrigley, circa 1942

"In the late summer of 1942, a young woman with a sprained ankle and broken heart sat sipping a Coke in Bennett's Drug Store in Tallahassee, Florida when a gaggle of fresh-faced second lieutenants from nearby Dale Mabry Air Field strutted in the door.  The pilots sat down and began to converse nonchalantly about what a swell war this was going to be.  One of them noticed the forlorn young lady sitting alone in the corner.  He rose and sauntered over to her, observing in his best East Texas drawl, "Why, you look as pitiful as a dying calf in a snowstorm."  ...Letters From Out of the Blue

Lt. Guy O. Denton in North Africa, 1942

And so began the courtship of my grandmother, Jackie Melton Wrigley to my grandfather, Guy O. Denton,  a hot rock pilot from East Texas who pursued the love of a young widow despite the turmoil of a world filled with heartache and war.

So also begins a book, "Letters from Out of the Blue" authored by my uncle, D.G. "Rocky" Denton, that follows the love story of a handsome lieutenant with a witty tongue as he sends love letters to his beautiful girl back home.  The new book features a collection of love letters sent from my grandfather to my grandmother while he was fighting in North Africa with the famed 57th Fighter group during WWII.  While the book captures all the emotions of two young people falling in love, it reveals a larger story where the effects of a world-wide war had significant impact on individual Americans.  You can buy the book HERE on

When I discussed the book with my grandmother and her memories of the time, we talked about the fear and the loss but also the hope and the camaraderie.  The women back home were not idle. They worked in the home and out.  They saved, they scrimped and they shared with one another.  I wanted to share this book with all of you because I love to read these handwritten letters full of people and stories who are mostly forgotten. 

But since this is a cooking blog, I wanted to share a recipe to go along with it.  The problem is or should I say the problem "was" during that time their was a shortage on everything!  With rations on flour and sugar it was difficult to cook, but American women, rolled up their sleeves, tied on their aprons and came up with some pretty ingenious recipes.  Most of the substitute ingredients are not readily available now, but as I searched through lots of recipes I noticed that women used locally grown and readily available ingredients.  For instance, women in the North used maple syrup and maple sugar to substitute for white sugar and women in the South used a lot of cornmeal and grits to substitute for flour. 

Since my grandmother was from South Carolina, I asked her if she could remember any recipes from that time period that would have been served in the South and she said she remembered eating a LOT of grits.  Morning, noon and night!  Sweet grits and cheese grits if you could find the extra ingredients.
In honor of all those wonderful, courageous and ingenious women who found a way to make something out of nothing and provide good food for their families, I offer you an updated version of a Southern classic.

Spicy Shrimp & Cheese Grits
Cheese Grits
4 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 cup old-fashioned grits

1 1/2 cups of extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil.  Add the Cajun seasoning.  Slowly stir in the grits. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring frequently, until the grits are tender, 20 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cheddar cheese, the Parmesan cheeese, the butter and cream. Season with salt and pepper.  To serve, scoop a cup of grits into a bowl, top with shredded cheddar cheese, a few spicy shrimp with the juices from the pan, and extra Tabasco.  Serve immediately.

Spicy Shrimp
1 lb of peeled shrimp, uncooked and deveined
1/4 cup spicy flavored olive oil
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
Tabasco to taste

Heat the spicy oil in a medium saute pan until hot, add shrimp, Cajun seasoning and a few dashes of Tabasco.  Saute until the shrimp are pink and firm.  Remove from heat and serve.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool's Day Means Fun: Octopus Hot Dogs and Rice Krispie Sushi

Happy April Fool's Day!  Have you fooled someone you love today?  I love to see the constant stream of joke ideas on Facebook.  I particularly liked the one where Mom and Dad moved everybody around after they fell asleep so that they would wake up in the wrong bed this morning.  Way to go Julia and Roger!  You two have more energy than I do.  I thought about it last night around midnight, but the idea of trying to carry my almost-14 year old son to another room dampened my spirits, so I watched a rerun of 30 Rock instead. 

My friend Kara offered her boys registration forms for a fake "chore camp" for the summer-  LOVE IT!  Can you really send them there?  I think this may be on my agenda for this evening.

This morning I did a little teasing of my own.  Nothing too exciting, just the old "the clocks are wrong- we missed the bus" mad scramble which due to the fairly good nature of my kids produced much laughter and only a few eye-rolls!

Since this is a food blog- and a kid blog- we have to find something silly to do with food.  These two ideas are standbys at home and in my cooking camps. 

Smiling Octopus Dogs!

Octopus Hot Dogs

Using a sharp knife, slice the hot dog n half lengthwise, leaving 2 inches connected at one end.  Roll the hot dog 90 degrees, and repeat, slicing lengthwise in half but leaving the 2 inches connected at one end. You should now have 4 legs for the octopus.  Of course, a real octopus has 8 legs, so if you want you can carefully cut each of the 4 hot dog legs in half. This is where a sharp knife is essential, because the legs will be thin and fragile with some hot dogs.  On the "head" of the octopus, make two tiny slots for eyes and a half moon shape incision underneath for a smile.  

Place the hot dogs into a pan of boiling water and boil for a few minutes. You will see the arms  get curly and the head will plump.  Don't leave them in too long or it will distort the features.  Serve on a bed of spinach "seaweed" and enjoy!

A tray of candy sushi is fun for the kids to make.

Crispy Candy Sushi Snack

1/4 cup butter
4 cups mini marshmallows
6 cups crisped rice cereal
20 to 25 gummy worms
1 to 2 boxes fruit leather

Grease a 12- by 17-inch baking sheet. Melt butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until smooth. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the rice cereal until it's evenly coated. Turn the baking sheet so that the shorter ends are at the top and bottom. Then press the marshmallow mixture onto the sheet, distributing it evenly.

Starting at one side an inch up from the lower edge, place gummy worms atop the mixture end to end in a horizontal line. Gently roll the lower edge of the marshmallow mixture over the gummy worms.  Then stop and cut the log away from the rest of the mixture. Use the same method to form 4 more logs. Slice each log into 1-inch-thick "sushi" rolls and wrap them individually with a strip of fruit leather.