Shepherd’s Pie for Spring

I know a lot of Christians serve ham for Easter to celebrate being no longer under the constraints of the Jewish dietary laws, and I know lamb is very expensive in America, but if there’s one time of year when I like to splurge, it’s at Passover, which is just before Easter, and is known as “Good Friday” to most of us. Jesus was the Lamb of God, sacrificed on Passover as a “once for all” sacrifice for sins, and I want to celebrate by roasting lamb for my very favorite celebration of the year!

Happily, there is usually some lamb left over, and my favorite way to use up the extra lamb is by making a Shepherd’s Pie. Here’s how:

Savory Shepherd’s Pie
(Makes 8 hearty slices)

Start by preheating your oven to 350°F.


Next, peel and slice four large potatoes and boil them for about 20 minutes in salted water that covers them completely while you’re accomplishing the tasks below. (I’ve drained these potatoes, which are finished cooking and are ready to be mashed.)

In a frying pan, add the following ingredients and saute/simmer until tender:

The leftover drippings and broth from your lamb roast
1 medium, chopped onion
4 large, chopped carrots (there are fewer here because I also used leftover roasted carrots, which I hadn’t added yet)
1 cup chopped celery and celery leaves (I like the heart of the stalks for this)

Next, add all the lamb (at least 1-2 cups) chopped into bite-sized pieces (or shredded).

When everything is cooked until tender and heated through, add:
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon crushed garlic (fresh or dried)
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon thyme

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of flour over the top and stir into the mixture.

At this point, I added some leftover roasted potatoes chopped into bite-sized pieces, but this is optional (although I think it tastes good). For sure you need to add: 2-3 cups of water drained from the boiled potatoes (enough to make a thick gravy). Turn off the heat and keep covered until you’re ready to finish the pie.

After the potatoes are cooked, tender, and drained, most of the liquid, but perhaps not all, will go into the gravy mixture. Then, pour off any remaining fluid, leaving about 1/4 cup potato water in the bottom of the pan with the potatoes. Then add:
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt and whip in a blender until really fluffy and light.

Empty all the meat and veggie mixture into your biggest pie plate (mine is an 11″).

Arrange the mashed potatoes like whipping cream with high peaks on top.

Dot the top of the pie with about 2 more tablespoons of butter cut into chunks and then sprinkle liberally with coarse (or regular) salt.

Bake in the oven at 350°F. for 30-45 minutes, until the tips are turning a golden brown. (The higher up in the oven, the faster it will brown on top.)

Really, shepherd’s pie is a meal in itself, although I served it with warm garlic bread, grilled egg plant, french-style beans and steamed asparagus. You can serve it with anything or nothing, but I hope however you eat it, you’ll enjoy it as much as we do!

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29, ESV).

(Speaking of Jesus:) “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12).

Melted Dreams

Sometimes all our dreams,
Like hollow chocolate, melt
And disappoint us!

It was the perfect day for an Easter egg hunt outside, and in less than 15 minutes Alan and I had distributed all the Easter eggs, candy, and chocolate rabbits—especially the chocolate rabbits (everybody’s favorite gift)—around our field.

Quick as a flash, our grandchildren flew around the field, gathering up all the surprises and treats.

However, to the children’s horror, two of the bunnies (which had been hiding in the sunshine) must have experienced green-house effect heat and melted down into little masses of mess! 😦

Isn’t this a picture of so many of our fondest dreams in life? We have such high hopes and work so hard preparing for the future.

We are eager and “do everything right” as best we know how, but suddenly something unexpected dashes our hopes for “the perfect” ending and turns our “high point” into a low point.

At times like this, I am reminded that every dream and ambition apart from seeking God is like a hollow Easter bunny that will not withstand the heat of life. Better to keep my eyes on the Lord and find my joy in Him! “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Psalm 146:5). “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee” (Psalm 73:25).

Celebrating the Resurrection at Northridge

Celebrate Easter!
Did you go to church? If not,
Why not listen now?

Did Easter slip by you this year? Many people work in industries where there is no option to stop and rest on Sundays, and for others, attending church wasn’t a priority. Maybe you’re among those who were super busy preparing a feast for family and friends, hiding Easter eggs, and enjoying the cultural aspects of the holiday. If you weren’t able to attend a service anywhere and feel a tug in your heart that you may have missed out, then it’s not too late!

Hundreds of churches around the world now have their services on line! Why not take a break and take in what’s been going on at Northridge Church near Detroit, Michigan? This church is so full of love and energy to reach out to others that on February 17, 2019, they received the “Liberator of the Year” Award for Michigan and Ohio for their involvement in helping with the human trafficking problem. (They are the first and only church to ever be given that honor!) Northridge has also been so excited about Easter that they held 18 services where over 21,000 joined in worshiping and praising God together. You might be happily surprised by what you see, hear, and learn! And, if you live in the area, this coming Sunday (April 28, 2019), Dr. Hugh Ross will be discussing the interconnection between faith and science.

http://northridgechurch.com/experience/talks/the-moment/310/

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).

Life Without Easter?

For Good Friday, I’d like to share a meditation by my friend, Cynthia Wedge:

Have you ever thought about what life might be like without Easter? I was thinking about that the other day as Easter is drawing close. Below are my reflections.

There would be no purpose to life. The thing, actually person, who gives me purpose and meaning to life is Christ. My purpose is to bring honor and glory to Him in all that I do and say. Even though I don’t do that perfectly nor all the time, that is what I desire to do and what makes my daily life meaningful. Along with that is sharing Him with others as I have opportunity, helping them to obtain meaning to their life.

There would be no hope for the future, life after death. Because of Easter, Christ’s death AND resurrection, and putting my faith in His work, I know when I die I will immediately be in the presence of my Savior. This assured hope helps me persevere through the difficult circumstances of life.

There would no forgiveness. Without God’s forgiveness of our sins, how can we forgive people the wrongs they have done to us? It is God’s example of forgiveness and only because of His enabling, that we are able to “forgive our neighbor”. Without forgiveness, anger and bitterness would run rampant in the world. Forgiveness melts our anger and dissolves our bitterness toward those who have wronged us. None of us would have even an ounce of forgiveness within us apart from Christ’s sacrificial death and forgiveness of our failures and sin.

There would be no love. It is because God loved us that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to come to earth and take on our sin. God is the source of love, for He is Love. Without His love in us, we would not love our fellow man, our spouse, our children, etc. A world without love? I don’t even want to think what a world without love would be like. When I see the hate and anger being expressed in our society today, it is just the tip of the iceberg of what people would do to each other without love.

I could probably go on and name more things, but these are enough for me to be thankful for Easter. Thankful that God loved the whole world enough to make it possible to have our sins forgiven and to have a personal relationship with Him. To know God loves me, even when I fail Him so miserably, He continues to love me infinitely. This is beyond my comprehension, but I am oh, so grateful.

Grateful that Christ, God’s Son, was obedient to His Father, even though He prayed “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but Yours be done.” He knew how much He would have to suffer as a man, the pain of the thorns, the whipping, the nails, the sword. Just as any of us would shrink from such pain, so did Christ, yet because of His love for mankind and His obedience to His Father, He submitted Himself to die a cruel death on a cross. While on the cross, He took the sin of the whole world upon Himself, for you and for me. Because God is holy, He had to turn His back on His Son, causing Christ to cry out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Never before, in all of eternity past had they been separated!

I could probably go on and name more things, but these are enough for me to be thankful for Easter. Thankful that God loved the whole world enough to make it possible to have our sins forgiven and to have a personal relationship with Him. To know God loves me, even when I fail Him so miserably, He continues to love me infinitely. This is beyond my comprehension, but I am oh, so grateful. Grateful that Christ, God’s Son, was obedient to His Father, even though He prayed “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but Yours be done.” He knew how much He would have to suffer as a man, the pain of the thorns, the whipping, the nails, the sword. Just as any of us would shrink from such pain, so did Christ, yet because of His love for mankind and His obedience to His Father, He submitted Himself to die a cruel death on a cross. While on the cross, He took the sin of the whole world upon Himself, for you and for me. Because God is holy, He had to turn His back on His Son, causing Christ to cry out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Never before, in all of eternity past had they been separated!

My prayer is that you experience and know the love of God and the forgiveness of your sin, because of Easter!

© Cynthia Wedge April, 2019

World’s Fluffiest Parker House Rolls

My daughter-in-law Brianna makes the world’s fluffiest Parkerhouse rolls. They melt in your mouth and have become a treasured menu item for the most special family dinners. We have to count them out carefully so that everybody gets their fair share, because even our youngest grandchildren relish them! Think Heidi, if you remember that story; at least, that’s what I always think of when I eat one!

Here’s the recipe, which Brianna got from an online source, Bobby Flay. Hers look even better (to my way of thinking), but I’ll list his site at the end so you can see how the original master does it too.

Heat 1.5 cups milk in a small saucepan until it simmers. Remove from the heat and add:
1 stick (4 oz.) butter
1/2 cup sugar. Stir until the butter and sugar have melted and dissolved. Cool.

In your mixing bowl, dissolve:
1 package active dry yeast in
1/2 cup warm water and let it sit until it starts to foam. Then add:
the cooled milk mixture, plus
3 large eggs
1.5 teaspoons salt
3 cups all-purpose flour. Mix with a dough hook until smooth, then add another
3 more cups all-purpose flour, about a cup at a time, until a smooth ball forms.

Remove the dough unto a floured surface and knead it for about five minutes, adding flour only as needed so that it’s not too sticky to handle.

This is probably the most crucial step, and I think it’s a matter of experience to figure out how it should look and feel, but if you’ve made bread a few times, you know it’s best when it feels elastic, soft, and a bit bouncy without being sticky.

Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm location and let it rise until double, which takes about an hour.

Take the dough out of the bowl and punch it down (to let out some of the air).

Form them into balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Brianna makes 20 large rolls, and that works just perfectly (unless you have more than 20 guests). You could make 24 smaller rolls in two 9X13″ pans if you need more, but don’t think little ones couldn’t eat such big rolls. Our kids devour them!

Cover the top loosely with plastic wrap (could lightly dust the tops with flour it you’re afraid the wrap will stick to the tops). Set in a warm place to rise again. Give them 30-40 minutes. This would be the perfect time to preheat your oven to 350°F.

Bake at 350°F. for about 20 minutes, or until they’re turning a golden brown on top. I tend to bake things on the light side, because I think they stay soft longer, but that’s unlikely to be an issue with these rolls, since they’ll disappear fast! Remove from the oven and brush with a little melted butter. Serve warm!!

And ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters.” (Deuteronomy 12:12)

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/bobby-flay/parker-house-rolls-recipe2-1916763

Unforgettable Belgian Waffles: History and Recipe

The first time I ever met a “Belgian Waffle” was at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, which opened almost 55 years ago, on April 22, 1964.  What I didn’t realize then was that this Belgian dish, developed by Maurice and Rose Vermersch for the fair—sizzled at 500°F. in cast-iron waffle makers and selling up to 2,500 per day for $0.99—would sweep America as a nationwide sensation!  For those of you born after 1970, I’ll bet you thought Belgian waffles always existed, right? As I recall, they were served at the World’s Fair with powered sugar, fresh, sliced strawberries, and whipped cream, but no maple syrup. I usually serve them with syrup and bacon or sausage on the side, but suit yourself! Alan and I enjoyed similar waffles last summer at the Vatnahalsen Hotell in Norway after a ride through the mountains along the fjords on the Flam Railroad. (I doubt they call them “Belgian” waffles there! Maybe “Norwegian?”)At any rate, in Norway, we were given waffles and allowed to serve ourselves from two mammoth bowls: one with fresh, whipped cream and the other filled with a fantastic raspberry puree. Unforgettably, mouth-wateringly delicious!On cruise ships, waffles are often a staple, and you can crown them with various toppings, such as bananas foster, strawberry compote, fresh berries, etc!A breakfast of Belgian waffles is a great favorite at our house, and I try to serve them at least once any time our kids and grand kids visit (which happened last week when some of our kids were home for spring break). Despite the fact that I make them very often, they go so fast, and are in such high demand, that it’s almost impossible to get any good photos before they’re being devoured! If you haven’t made them yet, here’s one excellent recipe:

Belgian Waffles
(Makes about 8  five-inch waffles)

1. In mixing bowl, add:
2 cups sifted flour
3/4 cup white, granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

2. Mix together slowly, then add:
1.5 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs (you’re supposed to separate them and whip the whites separately, adding at the end; this makes the waffles fluffier, but if you’re in a hurry and don’t mind the loss of light texture, you can just add the yolks and whites together here)
1 cup melted butter (I actually only use a half a cup, because I think it’s too rich and fattening, but suit yourself! If you use a half a cup, then add another 1/2 cup milk above, making it 2 cups of milk.) Whip until completely uniform.

If I’m really in a hurry, I use:
2 cups Aunt Jemima Buttermilk pancake mix
1.5 cups milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted butter

This second recipe doesn’t melt in your mouth the way the other one does, but I don’t think our kids take time to let them melt anyway!  🙂

3. Regardless of how you make the batter, crisp the waffles in a preheated waffle maker until golden brown, then serve with generous supplies of:

*Fresh, sliced strawberries (or whatever else you have; in the winter we’ve even used cherry or blueberry pie filling)
*Syrup (or powdered sugar; our kids prefer syrup)
*Whipped cream

*And, of course, serve with lots of coffee, tea, and/or milk

O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever” (Psalm 30:12).

P.S.—Alan and I now have a son living in Belgium. I’ll have to ask him if Belgian waffles taste even better there  . . .

Mini Hotdogs with Sauerkraut and Slaw

Here’s an easy recipe for a big crowd, either for home and family, or to take to a potluck. Great flavor and can be served up as a hot appetizer or main course!

  Mini Hotdogs with Sauerkraut and Slaw

In a crock pot (or a regular stove-top, deep saucepan with a lid), combine: Two 14-oz. packages of “Li’l Smokies” (mini hotdogs; you could also slice up 2 pounds of regular hotdogs, although the mini hotdogs look cuter)
1 quart sauerkraut
1 small, diced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic (fresh or dried; I used dried)
1/2 cup mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional; leave out if you don’t like them) Simmer for at least one hour in a crock pot or cook on your stove top for at least a half an hour on medium heat until everything is thoroughly cooked and the vegetables are tender. If you cook on the stove top, you may need to add another 1/2 cup water (just enough to keep it from burning).  About a half an hour before you’re ready to serve it, add:
1 and 1/2 cups cold slaw mix (without dressing; just the shredded green and red cabbage with carrots). If you time it just right, the cold slaw absorbs the juices and cooks without losing it’s color. It can be cooked indefinitely, or reheated for another meal, and it doesn’t really effect the flavor, but it will lose it’s color, and it’s definitely most appealing when it has the green, purple, and orange-colored veggies mixed throughout!Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted” (Isaiah 49:13).