The Garden, The Curtain, and The Cross

Here in Atlanta, trees are beginning to bud, daffodils are blooming, and every one is beginning to complain about their allergies.  Yes, Spring is on its way.  I love watching all of God’s creativity show this time of year.  The incredible colors and breathtaking views of a new season get me excited.

With Spring on the way, We know EASTER is almost here.  We will put bunnies, eggs, and baskets in our decorations.  We will make plans for a perfect Easter dinner with family and friends.  We determine the best Easter Egg Hunt to take our children to.  We coordinate our family’s wardrobe to make sure we look our best on Easter Sunday. And we shop for the perfect items for our children’s Easter baskets.  We will talk about the Easter story and why we have a Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  But for many years, I felt that my children needed to know the Easter story but maybe I would leave out parts because they were not ready.  I felt maybe saying “Jesus died on Good Friday” was a little too much for my preschooler.  I would do the “Good Christian Mom Thing” and make sure there was a Bible story in their baskets along with chocolates and prizes.  We went to Easter Sunday Service and at Easter Dinner our prayers thanked God for sending Jesus to save us.  I felt good about what I was doing and then….

It was so clear the day I realized I had been watering down Jesus to my children.  I had not been talking about how we were sinners and God sent his only Son to Earth to ultimately die for us.  My words never said because of Jesus we have hope.  Easter was about Jesus to us but not letting them know how it is only about Jesus was my conviction. I would teach them that Jesus taught us how to live, love, and obey God.  I guess I didn’t want to scare my preschooler.  I didn’t want them to worry about death and how Jesus was beaten and hung on a cross for them.  But why?  It is the story they need to know more than any other story out there.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love to decorate with all the beautiful eggs, sweet bunnies, and monogrammed baskets. I will create yummy Easter treats and attend a fun Easter Egg hunt.  However, I am clear the whole purpose of Easter is to celebrate Jesus.  It all points to Jesus and what He did for us.

Recently I found the best book for children.  The Garden, The Curtain and The Cross is beautifully illustrated,  Biblically accurate, and captures your child’s attention. The book begins with God’s creation of The Garden of Eden.  Quickly we learn about how our sins keep us from living in a perfect garden with God.  We had a true separation from God. But God had a wonderful plan.  He sent His son, Jesus, to come live on Earth and die for us.  After Jesus had died on the cross, He was placed a in tomb guarded by soldiers.  But spoiler alert:  On the third day, the tomb was empty!  Jesus arose!  He conquered the grave.

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As a mom, I want to make sure that I am representing the truth of Jesus to my children. We read from the Bible on many nights.  When we read other Bible stories that are not out of our Bible, I want to make sure they are telling the true, Biblical story.

The Good Book Company has published this wonderful book and so many more.  The talented Carl Laferton and Catalina Echeverri made this book come to life.  I encourage you to check out their other books.  I hope to feature more soon.

And now……

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I am so excited to announce my FIRST giveaway!  The great people over at Good Book Company have given me FIVE copies to giveaway to those who follow Sing and Dance in the Kitchen blog, Instagram & Facebook.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Follow this blog.  Follow Sing and Dance in the Kitchen on Instagram and Facebook.
  2. Comment on this blog and tell me what you love about Sing and Dance in the Kitchen and what you would like to see more posts about.
  3. Tag at least 3 friends in the comments of Instagram and Facebook.  Make sure they begin to follow and you will get extra entries.
  4. Winners will be selected at random and will be announced on Friday, 3/9.  Good Luck!

Chocolate Corn Flakes Chocolate Chip Cookies (It’s a Yummy Mouthful)

It should be pretty clear by now that my boys LOVE cookies.  I am raising actual Cookie Monsters!  We have a glass cookie jar that sits on the counter.  Usually that cookie jar displays the recent cookie that have been made in our kitchen.  I love hearing the sound of the jar being opened up.  A slight clang of glass and you know someone is in the cookie jar.  I love hearing my oldest and his friends getting into the cookie jar.  There is something magical about boys gathering around for a snack after shooting hoops or a long day at school.

As the cookies start getting low, I am quickly reminded that we will need more soon. We have several recipes that are always classics in this home.  The Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie and  M&M Cookies are our usual standbys because the ingredients are simple and always on hand.

My soon-to-be four year old was eager to make cookies last week.  I told him we were going to mix it up and add one of his favorite cereal- Kellogg’s Chocolate Frosted Flakes. He was beyond thrilled to help with the process.  The cookies were super easy to make and turned out perfect.  You can always use plain corn flakes for your cookies.

Looking Forward,
Amanda

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Chocolate Corn Flakes Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 eggs

1 1/2 t vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1 cup regular oats, uncooked

1 cup chocolate corn flakes cereal (picture below)

1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips and additional 1/2 cup for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.

Beat shortening and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugars.  Beat until all combined.  Add eggs one at a time.  Then add vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and soda.  Gradually add to butter mixture.  Mix well.  Stir in oats, chocolate corn flakes, and chocolate chips.

Using a cookie dough scoop, drop dough 2 inches apart on your baking sheet.

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I always add extra chocolate chips to the top of my cookies before baking. It adds more chocolate and makes your cookies look good too!

Add additional chocolate chips to top off cookies.  Gently press in the chocolate chips. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  You want the cookies to be lightly browned.  Remove cookies and place on a wire rack for cooling.

And yes, this is Whitaker’s current favorite cereal:

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Our Valentine’s Rice Krispie Treats- On Mission in My Kitchen

I’m always looking for ways to get my boys in the kitchen. Simple recipes like this one help get my little guy involved.

I began getting him involved at the grocery store. I showed him what ingredients were on our shopping list. He helped me find Rice Krispie cereal, large marshmallows, butter, and sprinkles. Letting your child make fun decisions like, “What sprinkles would you like to use?” allows them to have ownership in the process.

In the kitchen, we took time to count out the marshmallows. We are working on counting to ten so we counted five different times. Yes, I’m very intentional when “teaching” in the kitchen. It is natural learning and having fun at the same time.

While standing on a stool beside me, he watched while we adding heat.  We watched as the butter melted and then the marshmallows melted. He smelled the yummy vanilla. And he added the food coloring and was excited when the color began to transform the marshmallow mixture.

He scooped up the cereal using a measuring cup. You can’t mess this recipe up so it’s okay if the cup is overflowing.

I think his favorite part was using the sprinkles he picked out. Lots of sprinkles were added.

As we waited for the treats to cool, I asked him “Who should be share these treats with?”. I’m trying to working with my boys to be outward focused. It is a daily conversation. “How can we bless someone today?” “Who’s day could be brighten?” “How can we show the love of Jesus today?”

He quickly decided that some neighbor friends might like these treats. We packaged them up in disposable aluminum pan. (I try to keep these on hand. The Dollar Tree always has the best assortment and they are one dollar.)

I loved that before he even tried his treat, he was skipping out the door with his brother to deliver the goodies.

It is the simplest recipes and experiences in the kitchen that can get your child involved. Yes, it will take longer and there might be more messes. I believe the quality and intentional time together makes it so worth it.

On Mission in the Kitchen,
Amanda

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3 T butter and additional unsalted butter to grease pan

4 1/2 cups of large marshmallows (we use 50 large marsmallows)

Red food coloring or gel

1 t vanilla (I used Mexican vanilla)

6 cups Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies® cereal

Assorted Valentine’s sprinkles

 

Prepare your 13×9 pan or whatever shape and size you desire by coating the pan with butter.  Set pan aside.

In large saucepan, melt butter over low heat.  Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted.  Remove from heat.

Stir in vanilla.  Then add red food coloring to achieve the desired color.

Add Kellogg’s Rice Krispie cereal.  Stir until well coated.

Using a buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into your prepared pan.

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Sprinkle the mixture with sprinkles.  Press in sprinkles.  Allow time to cool.

Using a knife, cut your treats to desired shapes.  Rice Krispie Treats are always best if served the same day.

Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos with Fresh Tomato Salsa

I love meals that I can prep and forget about for the day.  This recipe came out of Southern Living magazine.  I have tweaked it to fit our style.  The key is browning the pork prior to placing it in the slow cooker for the day.  It seals in the flavors and is delicious.  Your home will smell delicious and you will be so happy at dinner time.  The meat is so yummy and makes great leftovers.

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1 (4 to 5 lb) boneless pork shoulder or pork butt
1 T chile powder
1 T black pepper
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t granulated sugar
1 T plus 1/2 t kosher salt, divided
2 T Canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider
4 oregano springs
1 cup chopped tomato
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and finely chopped (about 2 T)
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 T fresh lime juice
12 (6 inch) flour tortillas
1 T smoked paprika
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Cut pork shoulder into 2 pieces.  Combine chile powder, black pepper, cumin, cloves, sugar and 1 T of salt in a small bowl.  Sprinkle mixture over all sides of pork pieces.

Heat oil in a large skillet over high.  Add pork pieces, and cook until deep golden brown on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.  Place pork in a slow cooker; add vinegar and oregano.

Cover and cook on LOW until pork falls apart easily with shredded with a fork, 8 to 10 hours.

Stir together tomato, red onion, lime juice, jalapeno, and remaining 1/2 t salt in a bowl. Chill at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

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Shred pork in slow cooker with 2 forks; stir in paprika and cayenne.

Toast individual tortillas in a skillet.

Serve pork on tortillas topped with salsa, cilantro, and sour cream.  We like to add black beans to our tacos.  And of course we like to have our chips and salsa.

Looking Forward,
Amanda

 

 

My Glass Jar Decorating Trick

I have several tricks I use when decorating.  One of my favorite tricks is filling up the middle of a jar with cans.  Basically these are aluminum cans that I have emptied and cleaned out.  I use them again and again.  They are absolutely perfect for taking up space in my jars.

This month my jar is filled with conversation hearts.  I stack the cans in first and then begin filling my jar with the little conversation hearts.  So magically I create the illusion that the jar is full.  (So tricky!)

 

What tricks do you have when decorating?  I would love to hear your ideas.

Looking Forward,
Amanda

Buffalo Chicken Crescent Roll

Super Bowl Week!  Yes, there is a football game but I get excited about all the yummy Super Bowl Foods!  I have been working on my menu and I wanted to share this new, favorite of my boys.  Seriously it is buffalo chicken and crescent rolls.  I mean two amazing things at one time!  It is super easy to make.  Plus I got a hug from my oldest saying “Mom, you created the best meal ever!”.

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2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast

1 T ranch dry seasoning

1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot (you can use whatever sauce you want- you completely have control the heat it brings.  Start with ½ cup and work up if needed.  

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

2 refrigerated crescent roll tubes

Dipping Sauces- Ranch Dressing, Bleu Cheese Dressing, Buffalo Sauce

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mix the chicken, ranch seasoning, wing sauce and mozzarella cheese and set aside.

Place one crescent roll onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper.  Seal together to form a long rectangle. Open second crescent roll container.  Using only half of the dough, add on the rectangle.  Reserve the other half for topping.  

Place the chicken mixture down the center of the crescent roll.  Then bring sides together to form a log shape.  Fold the ends in to hold in the filling.  Take the  remaining crescent roll dough and cut into strips with a pizza cutter.  Then lay on top of your newly formed log/roll.  Design however you wish.  

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Bake for around 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat when ready to serve.  Cut into 1 inch long pieces.  

Serve with your choice of dipping sauces and celery.  

 

Seeking Goodness- 2018 Goals

I love beginning the new year with goals.  I know there is nothing magical about January 1.  In my mind it is a great time to start my goals.  When I was in education, my goals and year began in August.  You can start goals on March 23rd and it is just as good as any other day.

I am visual and reflective.  So, I write out my goals.  My hubby and oldest wrote out their goals too.  We shared them as a family.  This gives us accountability and knowing someone is looking out for us.

Each year I decide on a word that helps focus me.  Last year my word was INTENTIONAL.  I wanted to be intentional with my mind, heart, words, and time.  As I reflect for this year, I continually landed on two words, SEEKING GOODNESS.   Looking for the kindness, generosity, quality, and best parts of everything.  By Seeking Goodness in my spiritual life, in my health, family, and self, it will naturally point to Jesus who is true goodness.

I know that working towards my goals is a process.  I’m not looking for perfection, it will take time to accomplish several of these goals.  I can rest in the fact that I am making progress towards my goals.  I am excited and a little nervous but know that I will be Seeking Goodness during the process.

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What are your goals?  Do we share any of the same?
Here to progress!

Looking Forward,
Amanda