& CHOCOLATE... yummy cupcakes from Crave Cupcakes of Houston. (Thanks for the tip, Taunya!)
& CHOCOLATE... yummy cupcakes from Crave Cupcakes of Houston. (Thanks for the tip, Taunya!)
When I ran across the recipe for Guacamole de Frutas in a New York Times reprint, I knew it was something my husband and I would love. Sure enough, it was a big hit in our house.
Since I am not sure of the copyright, you will need to check out the link for the recipe. It is basically standard guacamole... but with lots of fruit (apples, pears, cranberries)... and Thai basil instead of cilantro. (Thai basil is readily available at my HEB Supermarket.) It is that basil that gives it such an amazing, fresh taste!
AND... the topping of pomegranate seeds makes it SO special. We toss more on each serving, it is that good.
Each time I tackle separating pomegranate seeds, I think of my friend, Heather, affectionately dubbed the "Pomegranate Queen." So I'm dedicating this entry to her. ***grins*** She seems to never blog for many days without referring to pomegranates in some way or another.
You can be creative and customize the recipe to your liking, but... please give it a try. And tell me what you think, will you? Guacamole de Frutas... makes my mouth water just thinking about it!
A good blog is supposed to have regular posts. So... just how in the world do the rest of you bloggers manage to do that??? Sunshine on My Shoulders has suffered during the Christmas season. So... this post will do a little 2010 holiday catch-up by listing some memorable highlights.
Loving the greatest gifts of all... family members all wrapped up in each other!
Okey-dokey... that concludes my "2010 Precious Holiday Memories" list. The years keep ticking by... God's faithfulness remains. Praise His name!
***Here is the secret recipe for "Heather's Chipotle Cheese Ball."
Gather 8-oz pkg. cream cheese, softened, 1 can chipotle chilies in adobo, slivered almonds and a little butter.
In a food processor blend the can of chipotle chilies until smooth. Add 1 Tbsp of blended chilies to softened cream cheese, blending well. (My husband just tosses the remaining chilies into his salsa!) Cover, refrigerating until firm. Toast desired amount of slivered almonds in the butter, and roll them onto the firm cheese ball. Wrap in saran wrap and chill until ready to serve.
Way too easy to be SO yummy! Aren't you glad you were made privy to this secret recipe?
During the holidays, it is tradtion at our house to indulge in a simple, non-alcoholic eggnog punch. When I saw this vintage Anchor Hocking Eggnog Set a few years back, I knew it would be a fun way to showcase our punch.
This is how we make our Eggnog Punch. (Please do not ask me for exact measurements. We always just adjust to our taste.)
Messick/Mowdy Family's Traditional EGGNOG PUNCH
First... put about half a carton of good store-bought eggnog into your punch bowl. On top of that... pour a good portion of 7-Up, Sprite or Ginger Ale. Then... and here is the important part... dollop generous scoops of ONLY Homemade Blue Bell Vanilla ice cream on top. Finallly... generously sprinkle with nutmeg. (Be sure your nutmeg is fresh. It makes a huge difference. Go ahead and throw out last year's can, and buy a fresh one!) You can let the ice cream melt... or like my kids do... serve up a little scoop in each cup. It is yummy!!! And at our house, it always sparks "Remember when..." conversations.
Since we had the Eggnog Punch during the Thanksgiving holiday, I have decided to try a variation during our Christmas festivities. This is for you Nick and Rebekah! We are going to have Peppermint Eggnog Punch. Boy, does that sound good.
After the punch is history, there always seems to be leftover eggnog taking up space in my frig. And I feel a bit guilty pouring it down the drain. So... this is the plan. This year I will use it up in one or more of these tempting recipes. Now... my husband and I cannot eat most of this... but I do love giving things away!
Here it comes, folks! ***drum roll please***
Eggnog Latte (Just like Starbucks! Especially if your use their brand of coffee.)
Paula Deen's Leftover Holiday Eggnog and Breadpudding Cupcakes (Again... eliminate the whiskey for us teetotalers. This recipe looks SO good!)
Eggnog Rice Pudding (ultra rich recipe)
Whew! That's a lotta nog recipes, I tell ya. I dare someone to tell me any other unique recipe. Okay... I already know of a friend who makes homemade nog... using goat's milk... or almond milk. But then... what to do with the leftovers?
These are just one gal's suggestions. Oh... I forgot to add this. You could pour the leftover eggnog into a cup... plain... and drink the stuff. That would work.
These grateful pilgrims are holding bags of "Blessings Mix," a simple snack mix favor to remind us of things for which to thank God.
Here is a peek at the gift tag which lists the ingredients... and corresponding blessings.
And here is my work table, as I assembled the bags of blessings. I chose my own proportions, but if you don't like guessing, you can check out the Blessings Mix Tutorial online.
The "Blessings Mix" bags were handed out in our Sunday School class this morning (the class being another huge blessing!), and also distributed during nursing home and hospital visits.
On Thanksgiving Day, my leftover ingredients will go into a huge bowl for munching, along with a framed label to let our guests know the meaning of the snack.
"Blessings Mix." A great (& tasty!) little project to make and share during the Thanksgiving season.
This past Labor Day weekend, my husband and I decided to stay in town, and use our free time to catch up with friends, do projects around the house, and have a Houston based date night. We did just that, and we had a great time! I am having a crash day today to recuperate from all the fun!
Our date night found us at the Museum of Natural History where we visited the special "Secrets of the Silk Road: Mystery Mummies From China"exhibit, finally released from China for a run in America. We found it intriguing! Let's see... what I remember the most would be:
The Silk Road extending from Southern Europe through The Arabian Peninsula, Somalia, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Java-Indonesia, and Vietnam until it reaches China. Land routes are red, water routes are blue. (Photo from Wilkepedia.)
Google Image courtesy of Bowers Museum
There is SO much more to see, but I don't want to reveal all the "Secrets,"... so you must add this to your date night wish list!
Afterwards, we stopped in at The Chocolate Bar for Creamy Dreamy Truffle ice cream. Whoa boy! What a treat. A good place to pick up gifts, too.
Friday night we invited friends for dinner. David introduced us to a great new game, "Settlers of Catan."
I do not enjoy the game, Risk, and thought it might be like that. But it moved much faster... more action. It has been the "Best-Selling Game of the Year," both in the U. S. And Germany. We LOVED it... so, check it out!
Saturday... "Girls Night Out" at Buca di Beppo Italian Restaraunt in the Woodlands. With that great bunch of gals, we laughed... and ate some great food! (Caution: wall art here is like you see in Rome. What a shame.) The guys went to Fogo de Chão, a Brazillian steakhouse like no other! It was a bachelor's party of sorts, for David, before he gets back into town in December just in time for his wedding! They laughed too... enjoying each other's company... and overeating all that "man" food!
SO... we did not go out of town, but had a grand Labor Day weekend nonetheless! And we managed to paint a wall in our home, too! A lovely "brown paper bag" color. (Much lovelier than it sounds)
Ahhh... precious times! But I admit, staying home and enjoying the serenity of a rainy day is a perfect "recoupe" for a fun-filled holiday weekend!
Do you need a little token gift... in a hurry? I did... today.
SO... I remembered reading about the new Milano Strawberry Cookies. I grabbed a bag when I did my grocery shopping this morning. Truthfully... I grabbed 2 bags. A girl must taste what she is planning to give as a gift, right? And yes... they were yummy.
I'm thinking it would be nice to prepare a gift basket for a friend, including the cookies, some tea, and a little devotional book. That would encourage a "Milano Moment" in the midst of a busy day, don't you think?
Boy... I'm finding that there are a lot of Milano Cookie loyalists out there! There is even a recipe for Strawberry Milano Cupcakes. Cupcakes... Milanos... I'm telling you, those have to be a girl pleasers!
"Milano Moment" gift. I like it!
Just how many key limes does it take to get 1/2 cup of juice? IT TAKES 18, THAT'S HOW MANY! And it takes 30 minutes to do the squeezin'... if you are slow and have weak hands like me. Come to think of it... if I would squeeze like this every day... perhaps it would strengthen my hands.
And I just know key lime juice is good for cuts. Like the one between my fingers from opening the fat-free can of condensed milk. You know how I know it is good for cuts? CAUSE MY MAMA ALWAYS SAID IF IT BURNS...IT HELPS IT GET WELL! I never really bought that line when she used it on me.
Anyhoo... it was a labor of love. My hubby loves Key Lime Pie, and I made this Southern Living, lower fat version for his belated birthday celebration.
Sure hope he likes it, as it will likely be a while before I tackle another key lime squeezin' project.
Monarch on my patio.
I've heard it said that those who stay younger and even healthier are the ones who are always anticipating what is ahead...as opposed to always looking back. When I first became an empty-nester, and was dealing with health issues as well...I got stuck living in the past, for a while. And thinking my life was nearly over. But when I allowed God to change my heart, He "quickened" my spirit, and set me on a course that causes me to be excited to get out of bed each day!
Birthday girl enjoying VBS.
The past few days I have delighted in:
Gypsy in the Medina River.
I love this quote from Michelangelo, "Ancor imparo," (I am still learning). The best part of this quote is that Michelangelo was 87 years of age when he said it!
"Lord...help me to keep a learner's heart...looking to You with confidence, trusting that you are the author AND finisher of my faith." ~Hebrew 12:2
"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip."
Well, not exactly a Gilligan's Island kind of cruise, but memorable nonetheless! My husband had to do a lot of navigating to surprise me for our 38th wedding anniversary. When we arrived for dinner at The Aquarium Restaurant in Kemah, I was shocked to see family and friends assembled, grinning from ear to ear. It took a bit for it to sink in...why was friend Al there?...AHHH...he was there as "Skipper." Al has a "tiny ship," a 38-foot sailboat, and our "tropic port" was just outside the restaurant there in Kemah.
After indulging in a scrumptious seafood meal, we set off for our "3-hour tour," a spectacular sunset cruise. Instead of the fateful 5, there were 8 of us. And it was delightful for all...except Gabe...who discovered why he was an Air Force man instead of a Navy guy. The big tough guy was green around the gills the whole time. Helping with the sails and steering was quite an adventure.
The anniversary years keep sailing on...and #38 will be happily remembered as our "3-Hour Tour" year, another of our spectacular sunset memories...thanks to the efforts of a "Skipper brave and sure," and his loving crew.
See what my daughter and I made recently? Well, honestly...she did most of the work. But we spread out all over my kitchen table, and had so much fun choosing different ribbon combinations, and styles. She completed 75 hair bows, to help a friend who is getting into the summer craft fair circle. (Our friend, Heather, is also helping, by sending a parcel of her adorable bracelets.) I called the displayed bows our "Bow-licious Tree."
I asked my friend to send me a photo of this great craft, which she used just this week, teaching God's omnipresence. Linda purchased black switch-plate covers, and had the children use toothbrushes to splatter glow-in-the-dark paint. Glowing star stickers completed the project. There are all sorts of ways you could adapt this idea. I love it!
Summer...CHICKEN ON THE GRILL
Take a look at this yummy dish, Chicken Breasts with Avocado, Tomato, and Cucumber Salsa. Perfect for a summer dinner on the patio. It is healthy, easy to prepare, and tastes divine. I do go heavy on the avocado, as we are definitely avocado people. My husband would eat it weekly, if I would prepare it. So...it is on Friday night's menu in the Messick house!
Precept Ministries is offering something new for the summer...an online, Inductive Bible Study, titled "Sweeter than Chocolate-Hebrews 11." Beginning June 24, a video lesson will be posted weekly to correspond with each of the 6 weeks in the study. You can invite friends to meet with you, as I am, for some fun fellowship. Or go solo. But, hurry...register and order your workbook, because the deadline is approaching. Time spent in God's Word is always an investment with huge dividends, is it not?
Summer...CAN BE SO VERY FUN!
Have a look at some new finds around my house.
I actually won this beautiful handmade reverse applique notebook in Heather's blog giveaway. Doesn't she do lovely work? I am still deciding how to best use it. Journals and unique notebooks have always held an enchantment for me. This one may very well become my all-time favorite. Thank you, Heather!
When Dave and I were browsing Best Buy, we saw this just-out computer Lapdesk by Logitech, with a built-in speaker system. My husband made the comment that it seemed to be designed just for me, and we did something we seldom do. We bought it on the spot...no researching for reviews or consumer reports. We saw it...we loved it...we bought it! Since I roam the house with my laptop, it is absolutely perfect. The cooling fan is silent, and I feel no heat on my lap, where it rests so comfortably with the padded underside. And the sound, with the high-definition speakers, is excellent. You must check it out!
Have a look at my new find, this recipe for Tiramisu Toffee Trifle Pie. It is fast becoming a family favorite. I'm making it again for a dinner this Saturday, with Gabe and Jeanie, our friends with whom we have shared numerous Epicurean Memories, both here and abroad. It is a simple, quick-to-prepare recipe, not overly rich, and a real people pleaser. If your people like coffee...and chocolate...and cream cheese...and toffee. Worth watching what you eat all week so you can indulge on this one!
There you have it.
My look-see trio!
Formerly a "tea-totaller," my trip to London, and the introduction of PG tips tea, resulted in my now being a regular indulger! I was delighted to find European-style brown sugar cubes at my local HEB Central Market. My cup of tea seems not only tastier, but more luxurious...with the little clump of raw brown sugar dissolving inside my lovely bone china cup, one of the royal designs used in Buckingham Palace. And with the cream (or in my case, almond milk) poured from one of my large collection of tiny restaurant creamers, with a little vintage linen napkin on the side.
For the British, tea and the art of serving it properly has always been of utmost importance. Almost a ritual, the art of preparing, serving and enjoying tea is an important aspect of Chinese culture as well. While teaching in Taiwan, my daughter was given very serious classes on this subject.
A lady I highly esteem once said that we should never resort to a brown bag life style, even if living alone. She took her housekeeper's brown bag lunch...created a lovely presentation on her finest china...sat her in her formal dining room and said, "Now dear, stop and take the time to really enjoy your lunch."
So...I go to a bit more effort...but the results pour a delicious calmness into a brief interlude within my busy day. It is definitely "just my cup of tea!"
You know...before I show pictures from our day in London, I must relate a bit about our first glimpses of this great city, which occurred at the beginning of our trip, on the way to India. And I must relate to you our "Mystery of the Black Pudding." (We were in Sherlock Holmes country, you know!)
We landed in London's Heathrow Airport to find the city blanketed in snow...and the entire city quite shut down. So...we spent one night in a nearby hotel. Actually, it was a blessing for me, as I've always found the long trip to India so physically taxing. And besides that, due to the confusion in Houston, we were bumped to first-class seats, and I was able to actually stretch out and sleep!
We loved playing a bit in the snow...and were filled with anticipation of what might be ahead.
The next morning, we enjoyed a traditional English breakfast buffet...resplendent with pastries and fruit and omelets and pancakes and...(drum roll, please)...BLACK PUDDING. Okay, these Texas gals were rather naive about culinary treats from around the world, so we were anxious to give everything a try. Besides, this was London, where, we reasoned, food would be sensible. We would be more cautious in India.
Hungrily devouring the food piled high on our plates, we were in "hog heaven." (Little did we know!) But there was the mystery. What in the world was this stuff which was labeled "Black Pudding?" Some kind of fried sausage, I thought. Crystal and I did not like the taste, but Rachel dug right in, and ate the whole thing.
As we checked out, I was determined to solve "The Mystery of the Black Pudding," and inquired as to what in the world it was.
"Oh...it is good for you! Full of vi-tamins," (English pronounce the word "vitamins" with a short i sound in the syllable "vi". You simply must hear this pronunciation in your head!)
"Yes...but WHAT IS IT, ma'am?", I innocently asked.
"Oh...it is the blood of pigs...which has been fried. Very full of vi-tamins," was her reply.
BLAH! BLAH, BLAH, BLAH!!! When I told the girls, we were all aghast!! I'm afraid it tainted a bit our impression of Londoners. HOW COULD THEY EAT THAT?
Some mysteries are better left unsolved, I think.
(If you are still curious, look here for details and yucky pictures about Black Pudding. And just WHY do they call the nasty stuff "pudding?")
On our return home from India, Crystal, Rachel and I had a "cool down" period with a stopover in England. Pastor Donovan and Laura Bangs, who live and serve in the Cambridge area outside of London, were our hosts. And gracious, delightful hosts they were...along with their almost two year old son, Max, who I nicknamed "Tank."
We enjoyed the Sunday worship service (ahh...all in English!). The girls helped Laura with Children's Church, while I enjoyed the adult service. Pastor Bangs is an excellent preacher. We enjoyed fellowship after-wards with church members, some of whom are converts of Pastor Bangs' ministry.
The girls commented that Pastor Bangs has a harder job than the pastors in India. In many ways that is true. The spiritual climate in England is so cold, with churches closing all over the country. Yet Pastor Bangs has remained faithful to his calling, even while missionaries in this country are continually leaving. I am proud of him.
Another great preacher began his ministry in this area of England.
Laura treated us to morning tea at a quaint shop near Ely Cathedral, complete with traditional English scones and clotted cream.
And then in the afternoon, a scrumptious repast, which included a memorable, steaming hot and delicious bowl of "Spicy Parsnip Soup" for me.
We were served by church members inside an out-of-the way restaurant located within the walls of Emmanuel Congregational Church, founded in 1687. Amazing spiritual heritage!
And the massive Fitzwilliam Museum of Cambridge was exceptional! Kind of a small scale Louvre.
The well known Cambridge Market was enjoyable. I love all the flower, fruit and vegetable markets in European cities. Rachel liked the Cambridge sweatshirt she bought there!
I was encouraged to see a Christian witness at Cambridge University.
In my next post, I'll show pictures from our day in London...thanks to Laura Bangs. And to Donovan, who babysat with Max so we could have a girls day-out. Our day in London was for Crystal and Rachel. Going out and about in Cambridge was for me. And I loved every minute of the adventure!