Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Merica! - Apple Toffee Crumble

Because of the events of this past holiday season, it has taken me a while fall back in love with apples. I usually love the season of honey-crisp and toffee dip but this has not been my season. I have been known to make a caramel apple a time or two. They are usually surrounded in a thick layer of homemade caramel that I stir for hours (really, 25 minutes) then I dunk them in an ocean of white chocolate and roll them in giant sugar crystals. This all sounds so glorious and it typically is, but after dunking an order for 400 of these babies three times and them still not setting right I sort of had a falling out with apples. There is so much more to the story but I have to stop there since I can tell my body is about to break out in hives at the thought of "caramel apple weekend". 
Last night we had a hankering for something sweet. I am menu planning for a large thank you dinner for all of the friends who helped with the lovely caramel apple weekend and after looking at recipe after recipe of chocolates and cookies and cakes I finally shut the books and opened the fridge. When what do my wondering eyes appear but a beautiful apple with butter quite near! I did a bit of scrounging around and put together a super simple apple toffee crumble. I LOVE crumbles with their oatyish (like that?) texture but the Salesman is not about oats under any circumstance. I decided to do a spin on my dump cake since I had everything on hand and it turned out to be a cross between a caramel apple pie/crumble/dump. It was delish and so simple. I think this has helped me fall back in love with apples just a wee bit. Maybe. Possibly. We shall see. 

Apple Toffee Crumble - Serves 4-5
Oh and sorry for the picture! I haven't found the perfect way to take a good photo of a runny bowl of butter love yet. 

5- peeled and thinly sliced apples (I used Fuji)
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Juice of one orange
1/3 C. Heath Toffee Bits (just the toffee, NOT the bits covered in chocolate)
1 c. dry butter or yellow cake mix
3 Tbsp cold butter

Combine the first five ingredients and pour into a greased baking dish. Sprinkle the toffee bits in and around the apple sliced then cover with the dry cake mix. I like to pat the mix down a bit on the apples so that it will help too much from oozing over the sides. Ain't nobody got time for oven cleaning! Finally, thinly slice the butter and using your fingers break it into pieces and lay on top of the cake mix. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. The only addition that needs to be made is a big scoop of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream. Amen. 

Enjoy Ya'll! 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Love Mission, Live Mission- Haiti

One thought has run though my mind over and over this past weekend. We are given a command to love God and love others, equally. Not with our leftovers, not as an afterthought but equally. I experienced Haiti this past summer and was rocked to my core. I have reflected over and over that trip and how I feel as if I was split open and parts of me have not be put back in place since. I am surrounded by a throng of people who equally love this place and it's people and who brave the flight to this destination monthly. I thank God for the examples I have of the many who have equally loved God and continue to love others and pray that I might grasp that better. Thank you to the many of you who supported me on this journey. This excerpt was from my first day there and my reflections from the trip are still on going. As I start this new year with new and different visions I pray that God will allow me to have my eyes opened over and over to his goodness in the midst of my overcrowded life. Have mercy on me. 

Isaiah 58:6-7
 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Saturday, June 22, 2013
I had a stirring in my heart as I chanted prayers of peace as we departed our comfortable land to fly out to the unknown. You can only be so prepared for this kind of mission. Between the obvious language barrier and the smoldering heat you lose all hope of trying to blend in as soon as the wheels touch ground. Being seated in a first class seat as we traveled in luxury seemed so sinful. It is easy to sit back and feel so deserving because we live in a land where hope is a reality, not a mere figment.You can ask, "why me Lord?", just as I am sure the crippled man who was healed asked when chosen out of so many. The locals beg to carry our bags, these bags full of belongings we packed for a week, the contents value of these "survival" items being worth more money than many will see in a lifetime here. I felt guilty and shameful knowing I have food from here tucked within the contents of my bag, more food than many will eat in a week or month. They beg for a job, just to carry a bag and be noticed, but we walk through the crowd like cattle keeping our eyes on the sterile tile as images of the comfort of my home I willingly left flash through my mind. The safety and security we find in our chauffeurs arrival rivals the feeling that the crowds must have felt when word of the Messiah being near had spread. We find such comfort in each other. Although we just learned each others name's we cling to each other as long beloved friends. The roads we drive down and stare at through dark tinted windows are the most shocking I have ever seen. The sight of such devastation and despair makes you want to close your eyes but yet I stare in shock, unable to remove my gaze. The high gate and polite guard surrounding our quaint hotel provide such a false sense of security, as if I can pretend that there are not mothers with babies just like me outside these walls who are desperate to provide just the basics for their babies. Do they know we bring a message of peace and hope or do they look to us for a meal meal and money? Does the sound of an airplane landing provide comfort knowing that help may be on the way among the passengers or is it just a hope of a few dollars being made just to put food on the table. The devastation and desperation can be almost crippling knowing that you can not change it all. But if we can help just one then our job is done.
This is Haiti, day one. Dear Lord please help me to never be the same again.

Season of Plenty- Granola Bars

This Winter season has been one of the hardest I have remembered in a long time. Between events and dead lines and orders and kids and so much more my life seemed like it was close to the brink of bursting so many times. I anticipated the holiday week away at my parents where I had established some basic rules that everyone had to follow; 1. Don't ask me to cook, 2. I will only cook when I want to, 3. Stay out of the kitchen and just let me be. I loved rolling out the almond sugar cookies drowning in sprinkles and decorating  the collapsing gingerbread house with all of the kids. Squishing the delicate buttery scones with my hands and savoring their brown butter glaze was just what I needed because I was cooking for me and no one else. Recently, as in yesterday, I finished the most amazing book about trying to find that balance of our life and surroundings we have created and trying to find and make more room for our Maker. It hit me between the eyes because I feel that I have overcrowded my life, my calendar and my family with things that aren't the necessities. As I read through the book images of Haiti and the sights and sounds I experienced couldn't help but run through my mind over and over. In reading about our wastefulness I thought of the streets that were lined with trash and images of children the same age as mine rummaging through it all in the hope to find some morsel of substance to sustain them until they were given something to eat. While reading about things we eat I couldn't help but remember how overjoyed we all were at the sight of things like Coke and rice and how frightened we were at the sight of local goat and chicken. We ate around what we wanted and left behind what we were to afraid too eat, all the while knowing that people outside our walls would never see that much food in their life. We had no second thoughts about being picky and choosy because we have never experienced that pit in our stomachs from not having a meal or knowing where the next meal would come from.
Those thoughts and so many others are the things I want tumble over and over in my mind as I approach this season trying to sort through the overstock and leftovers of life. After reading this book I hope to establish some better practices in my life. Simple things like using Tupperware instead of plastic bags, making use of the recycling bin for recycling instead of extra garbage, growing a few herbs and veggies, throwing away less and buying only what is needed. I know I will not get this right but if I can just be mindful of things and teach my children a few best practices I will feel better knowing that I am not shoving them through life with blinders on.
This recipe has nothing to do with the book other than I felt like making something earthy and satisfying. Normally I buy granola bars on sale individually wrapped and ready to drop in a lunch box or purse but something felt really good about making a big pan of these, slicing them and savoring each bite. Plus, it was fun to have a sidekick stirring, asking questions and steeling chocolate chips when I wasn't looking...
I highly recommend Seven by Jen Hatmaker. I loved every second of it! Between our love of Texas, good food and our amazing creator I think we could be best friends

Seven Granola Bars

3/4 C. Creamy Peanut Butter (don't go all natural on this, you need the fat to hold them together)
1/2 C. Brown Sugar
1/3 C. Honey- warmed slightly (easier to work with)
1 Egg
3 Cups Oats
1/2 C. Flax Seed
2 Tsp Vanilla
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 C. Mini semi or dark chocolate chips (I used the normal size Ghiradelli and they were amazing!)
*You can add up to 1/2 cup of mix ins like Craisins, raisins, coconut, nuts, etc but I am a purist.

Combine all of the above ingredients together. Lightly spray a 9x13 baking pan and line it with parchment paper. Lightly spray the parchment paper then dump your granola bars mix and evenly spread them out. Bake at 350 degrees for 13-15 minutes until slightly browned. Allow them to cool for about 5 minutes then lift them out using the parchment paper. Lightly score the bars with a knife then allow them to cool completely. I sliced the pan down the middle lengthwise then 8 times on the shorter side to get 16 bars. They are a mix between granola bars and oatmeal cookies.

Welcome back Ya'll and Happy New Years!