Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Chewy Toffee Blondies

What is one of the most valuable things a baker, especially a single baker like me, can have?  Guinea pigs.  No, not the furry kind.  The hungry, human kind.  I'm always wanting to try new recipes, and I'm thankful I have people who I know will gladly try them.  If I didn't, I would either make a lot of treats that I would end of throwing away, or I would eat them all and weigh 300 pounds.  For me, these guinea pigs are usually The Well band; they practice on Tuesday nights and I often make snacks for them. 

This is another Pinterest recipe that I tried and was a hit with them, and will now be on my go-to list for desserts!


Chewy Toffee Blondies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 c. Milk Chocolate toffee bits (plain toffee would work too)

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla. 
 Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture.  Stir in toffee bits.

Spread evenly into a greased 13×9 baking pan.  Bake at 350* F for 18-22 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Cool on a wire rack.  Let cool completely before cutting into bars.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Saddle Up

Yesterday at church I got to wear a new (to me) skirt and shoes for the first time.  And while the mustard yellow corduroy skirt from J.Crew was pretty awesome, I was most excited about the shoes.  I wore saddle shoes when I was little, and for the past year or so I've been wanting another pair.  I've kept my eyes open for them at thrift stores and finally came across a pair about two months ago.  Technically they're kids shoes, but one benefit of having small feet is being able to squeeze into kids shoes when you need to.  And I really didn't have to squeeze into them, they fit quite nicely!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ice Ice Baby

Well, it was another Friday at home for me.  No snow this time, but lots of ice!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

I made this soup on Sunday, and while the original directions were for the stovetop, I decided to do it in the crockpot instead - bad choice.  It ended up with the orzo overdone, it expanded and was almost mushy, and the carrots weren't done enough.  That being said, the flavors were good and I would make it again, following the stovetop directions this time.


Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
8 cups of chicken broth
Zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 lemons (about 1/3 cup)
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery until tender, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice bay leaf and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until orzo is tender. Add the chicken and heat for about 5 minutes.
3. Remove the pot from the heat. Discard the bay leaf and stir in the parsley. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve warm.
Note-You can use shredded rotisserie chicken in this soup.

from Two Peas and Their Pod

Monday, January 21, 2013


I got to spend Saturday with two of my closest friends and it was the perfect girls day, shopping, Starbucks, and dinner at a great restaurant called Sullivan's.  We were in Knoxville, and started the day at one of my new favorite stores - Planet X Change.  It's a clothing consignment store with brands like Banana Republic, J.Crew, Brooks Brothers etc.  But what's funny is that in the midst of all of the current brands and trends, you'll come across a shirt that literally is from the 70's.  Between the style, fabric, and dated tag you can just tell that it's a vintage piece.  It's so random!  On this trip I had two great finds, a J.Crew skirt for $18.95 and red and white striped sweater for $12.95, and it was one of those vintage pieces!  

One thing that I like is that on the tag they'll put how much that item normally sells for.

After that we headed to Starbucks for a while.

Then we went to this amazing place called Southern Market.  It's this huge store with dozens of individual boutiques that sold jewelry, art, home decor, stationary etc.  We were in there for almost two hours, and I probably could have bought something from almost each individual boutique - it was amazing!  But I practiced lots of self-control and got only two things.  A scarf and a really unique paper towel holder that looked like an old faucet.  I think I'm drawn to old faucets because sometimes we use that image for things at The Well.

I don't have any pictures from dinner, but it was delicious!  We also got a free yummy dessert because when we were sitting down Scottie's husband Dave got scratched by a spring that was poking out of the booth seat.  The restaurant was in downtown Maryville, and was in an old J.C. Penney store.  The entrance still had the old tiles that spelled out J.C. Penney, and the inside had exposed brick walls, air ducts etc.;  I love stuff like that!

I hate that I don't get to see these girls and have weekends like this more often, but I'm so thankful when I do!

Friday, January 18, 2013

27 Million

On January 1-4 I was able to go to the Passion conference in Atlanta, Georgia.  This is a conference for 18-25 year old college students (and their leaders), and this year there were over 60,000 in attendance!  Each day there was worship and teaching from some of the most well-known Christian artists and leaders today, including Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Charlie Hall, Matt Redman, Louie Giglio, Frances Chan, Beth Moore, and John Piper.  There were also small "family groups" that met twice a day to allow everyone to process that they had been learning, and to read scripture and pray together.  It's amazing that out of a crowd of 60,000 everyone ended up in a small group of approximately six to eight other people, but it happened!  Another main focus of Passion has always been to provide for those around the world who are in need, and for the past two years the students of Passion have been working toward providing freedom.  Freedom for who?  From what?

Freedom for the 27 million people around the world, including the United States, who are slaves.  27 million slaves - that means there are more slaves today than at any other point in human history.   If they stood shoulder to shoulder, the line would reach from Los Angeles to New York City and back again.  These are men, women, and children who are trapped with no way out.  They are working in factories, mills, and quarries.  They are fighting in civil war.  They are used and raped in strip clubs and brothels.  They have no control over what happens to them, no hope, no voice.  They really are slaves.  Slavery still exists.

Even though the horrors of this issue are something that I have been learning more about over the past few years,  it can still seem like just a number.  27 million is a huge number, but still just a number.  What changes that is when you see faces and hear stories.  Last year at Passion, we learned about three people's stories through four video segments.  The link to the entire video is below and I strongly encourage you to watch it.  It is long, but you need to see it and I don't think you'll regret it.

It is also important to realized that you and I are a part of the slavery problem.  So many of the products we purchase on a normal basis are made in part, if not fully, by slaves.  There's a website called slaveryfootprint.org where you can go and answer a bunch of questions about products you use and purchase, and it will tell you how many slaves you have working for you, to supply you with these things.  I really had no idea what to expect when I did it, and found out that I have 47 slaves working for me.  I'll be honest, I haven't done anything with this information yet, other than just know about it.  But it I do want to find out more specifically what things I purchase are made by slave labor.  I really encourage you to visit the website; it's very eye-opening!

Another thing you can do to help fight this problem us just to continue to become more aware, make others aware, and join in with those already pledging to take a stand.  Passion launched a movement called the End It Movement, a four month initiative to help raise awareness.  You can visit the website enditmovement.com to learn more, and if you're a tweeter follow them at @enditmovent!

Below is also a link to a great news story CNN did on the Passion conference and End It Movement.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

I'm A Believer

Like I mentioned in my last post, it's been raining a lot.  It seriously rained all day Monday and Tuesday, it rained off and on Wednesday, and I woke up today to steady rain once again.  They were calling for it to turn into snow, and everyone was all excited but I was sticking to my "I'll believe it when I see it," attitude when it comes to East Tennessee weather.  

By early afternoon the rain turned to slush and the temperature kept dropping so we called it a day at the office and each headed home to work.  After about an hour I peeked through the blinds and it was white outside!  I believed!  By around 5:00 it was still coming down steadily, getting darker, and I realized that if I was going to get some pictures I need to get on it.  I threw on my coat, stuffed my sweat pants into my snow boots and headed out.  We didn't get any snow last year, and I'd forgotten how wonderful the sound of snow crunching under your feet is and how a blanket of white can transform an otherwise ugly apartment complex into a peaceful winter wonderland!


Thankful for that new coat I got for Christmas!

The power ended up going out for about three hours, so I just sat my flashlight on its end, and straightened up the apartment and finished reading a book.  It was a good, quiet couple of hours!

Thankful for that Mag-Lite I got last Christmas!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rainy Boots

It was been raining non-stop for two days now...Eww...

This was the huge puddle I had to leap across while leaving the office this evening.  Normally I'd have my rainy boots on and I'd walk right through it, but my rainy boots have bitten the dust.  Part of the buckle part broke and flaps around, plus they're just coming apart at the seams in the back - literally.  I suppose it's time to invest in a really good pair instead of buying cheap pairs every year.  Here are some I like, what are your thoughts?

Monday, January 14, 2013

DIY "Sweet Treat" Plates

As mentioned in December, I made/decorated all of my Christmas gifts for friends this year.  My girls in Johnson City got monogrammed mugs, and for my friends from home, I decorated plates for them to put snacks and desserts - sweet treats - on.  I wanted to find plates that had a wide rim or edge on it, and I found fun colorful ones at Target for about $5 a piece!

As always, I typed up sweet treats in Word and found a cute font, this one was called Love Letters, downloaded from dafont.com.  Then I used a black medium point Sharpie paint marker to write sweets treats all around the rim of the plate.  One great thing about swirly, curly fonts like this is that if you mess up a little bit you can't really tell!  Every time I wrote it, it looked different than the time before, but you don't notice.  I signed the back of the plates and then baked them in the oven for 30 minutes for 350.*  I loved how they turned out, and I kind of want to make one for myself now!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


I got a new pair of TOMS for Christmas!  Grey (Ash is the technical name) ones that will go with everything; I'll have them worn-in in no time!

And I didn't even know this existed, but my mom also found and got me this book:

It's written by the guy who started TOMS, and was really interesting.  The beginning of the book was all about how TOMS, and the concept One for One, began.  The rest of the book was more about strategy and tips for people who wanted to start a non-profit, humanitarian effort, business with a mission etc., basically something that matters.  And if you noticed that his name is Blake and are now wondering why the shoes are called TOMS, it's because when he was beginning all of this, the phrase "Shoes for tomorrow" was always on his mind.  So he just took the "tom" from tomorrow and gave the shoes and the company the name TOMS.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Gearing Up

Today was our first day of work back at the office, and it got me even more excited for this semester to begin.  I can't wait to see all of our students, push them to go deeper in their walks with the Lord, and help them use their lives to serve Him! 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Loaded Potato Soup and Sweet Corn Bread

I like potatoes.  Baked. Mashed. Hash browned. French fried. And in soup!  This is a recipe a tore out of a Cooking Light magazine a while ago and finally got around to trying.  It was thicker than most potato soups I've tried, but it was still good!  And this was the first time I'd tried this corn bread recipe and it was deee-licious!  I think I actually said, "Oh my gosh, this is good!" out loud.  It's sweet, moist, just dense enough, and not gritty at all.

Loaded Potato Soup
from Cooking Light, November 2012


4 (6 ounce) red potatoes
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/4 cups fat free, lower-sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups 1% low-fat milk (divided 1/2  and 1 1/2)
1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 bacon slices, halved
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 tsp. thinly sliced green onions


1. Pierce potatoes with a fork.  Microwave on HIGH 13 minutes or until tender.  Cut potatoes in half; cool slightly.
2. While potatoes cook, heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil to pan, swirling to coat.  Add onion to pan; saute 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add broth to pan.  Combine flour and 1/2 cup milk in a small bowl, stirring until smooth; add flour mixture to pan with remaining 1 1/2 cups milk.  Bring soup to a boil, stirring frequently.  Cook 1 minute.  Remove soup from heat; stir in sour cream, salt, and pepper.
3. Arrange bacon on a paper towel on a microwave-safe plate.  Cover with another paper towel; microwave on HIGH 4 minutes.  Crumble bacon.
4. Discard potato skins.*  Coarsely mash potatoes into soup.  Top with shredded cheese, green onions, and crumbled bacon.

*I had trouble removing the skins, and I was pressed for time, so there were still lots of potato pieces with skin on them, but I didn't mind.

Sweet Corn Bread


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking dish.
  2. Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Mix egg, sour cream, milk, and butter in a small bowl. Fold egg mixture into flour mixture until just moistened; pour into prepared baking dish.
  3. Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Chocolate Chip Muffins

I'm pretty sure these are the first plain chocolate chip muffins I've ever made, and I don't think I'll be looking for a new recipe - these were wonderful!  Easy to make, light, fluffy, and full of chocolate...what more could you ask for in a chocolate chip muffin?

Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or spray the wells of the pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla, mixing until well combined.
4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the liquid ingredients into the well. Stir until ingredients are just combined - do not over mix the batter. Fold in the chocolate chips.
5. Evenly divide the batter into the prepared muffin pan wells. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
6. Remove muffins to a wire rack and cool for at least 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

from My Baking Addiction
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...