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WHAT WE'RE COOKING? HOLIDAY PLUM TRIFLE - gluten free sugar free diabetic friendly

2 T honey
3 lbs stone fruit (plums, peaches, nectarines, etc.), halved and pitted, coarsely chopped
1 recipe GF Angel Food cake (recipe below), cut into 1" thick slices
2 T fresh thyme leaves, chopped
16 oz plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 T orange liqueur

In a skillet over medium high heat, cook plums, honey and 1 T very hot water for 8-10 minutes.

Remove from heat. Cool. Toss thyme in and mix in orange liqueur.

Layer half the cake pieces in glass trifle dish. Top with half the fruit and half the yogurt. Repeat with remaining ingredients, reserving 1/4 C fruit mixture for top of trifle. Keep refrigerated and serve within 1 day of assembly.


Gluten Free Angel Food Cake
In a standing mixer, beat 1 1/2 C egg whites (at room temperature for 30 minutes) with 1 1/2 t cream of tartar, 3/4 t salt and 3/4 t vanilla until soft peaks form.

In another bowl, mix 3/4 C xylitol, 1/4 C arrowroot or cornstarch & 3/4 C GF flour (I prefer Namaste or Cup4Cup).

When the egg whites are at the soft peaks stage add 1/2 C xylitol, 2 T at a time.

Beat until stiff peaks form.
Fold in flour mixture 1/2 C at a time.

Grease a 10" tube pan. Spoon in mixture. Place on lowest oven rack in a preheated oven 350° and cook for 45-50 minutes, or until done. Remove from oven and invert pan on a plate. Allow to cool for 1 hour. Carefully with a knife, slip around the edges and remove from pan.


WHAT WE'RE COOKING? SPINACH ARTICHOKE DIP - slow cooker method - gluten free low carb diabetic friendly

10 oz fresh baby spinach, chopped
14 oz canned artichoke hearts, chopped
1/2 C sour cream
1/2 C mayonnaise
1/2 C finely diced onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 C mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 t garlic salt
1/4 C milk
8 oz cream cheese, cubed
salt and pepper, to taste

Spray slow cooker with non stick spray. In a bowl, mix spinach, artichoke, sour cream, mayo, onion, garlic, mozzarella, Parmesan, garlic salt and milk. Add salt and pepper. Dump into your slow cooker. Place cubed cream cheese on top of mixture, spread out as evenly as you can. Cook on high for 2 - 2.5 hours or until cooked through and cream cheese is melted. Stir. Keep on warm setting until eaten. Serve with crackers, bread or vegetables.

WHAT WE'RE COOKING? BRUSSEL SPROUT SALAD with warm bacon dressing - Thanksgiving Christmas Gluten Free Low Carb Diabetic Friendly

Makes 4-6 servings

1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed, thinly sliced with food processor, knife or Mandoline
6 slices bacon
1/2 C slivered almonds
1/2 C dried cranberries
1/3 C coarsely grated Parmesan
salt & pepper, to taste

2 T bacon grease from pan drippings
1 T olive oil
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 T Dijon mustard
2 T red wine vinegar
2 t maple syrup or a low carb syrup

Place shredded brussels sprouts in salad bowl. Toast almond in a dry pan over medium high heat until they're fragrant, about 2 minutes. Watch them carefully and stir frequently to prevent burning.

Cook bacon in a hot pan until very crispy. drain on paper towels. Cool. Pour bacon grease into a glass container, measure out 2 T grease and put in glass measuring cup. Add olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, vinegar and syrup. Whisk well.

Cop bacon into thin strips. Put dressing mixture into the same pan you cooked the bacon in and heat until it's bubbling. Pour over brussels sprouts and stir to combine. Gently stir in chopped bacon, toasted almonds, dried cranberries and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.

WHAT WE'RE COOKING? GARLIC HERB MUSHROOMS - slow cooker method - gluten free low carb diabetic friendly

24 oz mushrooms
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t dried oregano
1/4 t dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 C GF vegetable broth
salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 C half and half
2 T unsalted butter
2 T chopped fresh parsley

Place mushrooms, garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, and bay leaves in a 3 qt slow cooker. Stir in vegetable broth, salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours or high for 1-2, or until browned and tender. Stir in half and half & butter during the last 15-20 minutes of cooking time. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley.

WHAT WE'RE COOKING? SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE - Thanksgiving Christmas Gluten free

40 oz or more canned Bruce cut yams, drained
1 1/2 C light corn syrup
1 1/2 C brown sugar
1/4 C unsalted butter, cubed
16 oz miniature marshmallows

Grease 1 qt baking dish. Heat oven to 350°. Place yams in large baking dish and pour light corn syrup then sprinkle brown sugar over. Dollop with butter. Mix well. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and top with marshmallows. Bake for another 10 minutes or until marshmallows are lightly browned.

WHAT WE'RE STUDYING? New Year Resolutions, as Christians



As the New Year approaches, as Christians we should become reflective and consider transforming parts of our lives that need healing & repair, self-discipline, and resolve. Many usually make their resolutions around kicking bad habits like not eating so much junk food or developing new disciplines like losing a certain amount of weight. What is the place of New Year's resolutions in our Christian life? As Christians, resolutions should be a part of our everyday lives anyway.

We are resolved to seek God and glorify Him each and every day: Romans 12:2 calls us to daily transformation of our minds so we can know and live out God’s will for us.

We are encouraged to be self disciplined in life. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul uses a vision of an athlete in training being disciplined and striving towards the goal. The New Year could be the perfect time although any day is great to commit yourself to pursuing disciplines and habits that will help you run the race and win the prize.

Take the time this coming new year to consider the aspects of your life that need working on while resolving each and every day to choose to live for Christ.


Here are some resolutions we all should be striving for. There are many more other than these but let's start here:

    1. Plan to get into God’s word - a devotional, reading the bible in a year, listening to a sermon, dwelling on a verse, etc. Be creative! Read Colossians 3:16. Getting into the habit of reading the Word is also a common New Year's resolution for many Christians. There are plenty of Bible reading plans out there that guide you through reading your Bible in a year. It just takes discipline to open up the book every day. This doesn't mean you have to read your Bible in a whole year but it will help guide you and keep you on track to read daily. Just open up His Word and read it. 2 Timothy 3:16 – 1 Peter 3:15

    2. Pray daily- Set time aside for prayer, be structured in praying for people and issues in the world by using prayer lists, start a prayer journal, find a place to go each day to pray. Don't worry about what to talk to Him about, just talk. You'll be amazed by the results He'll reveal to you. Philippians 4:6 - 1 Peter 4:7 – John 15:7 -1 Thessalonians 5:17 – Romans 8:26 – Matthew 6:6; 18:19-20; 21:22; 26:41 – Luke 11:9; 18:1 – 1 Timothy 2:1-5 – Jeremiah 33:3 – James 5:16 – Ephesians 6:18 – Psalm 34:17 – Colossians 4:2

    3. Work on your problem areas - Pray that God will reveal the sin in your life to work on this year. Acknowledge, confess and repent of this sin. 1 John 1:9; 5:3 – 2 Peter 1:2-4; 3:9

    4. Develop a positive habit & work on self-control – There are probably other areas in your life that you should be working on. These may include eating better, sleeping better, exercising more, getting more organized, etc. Don't just think about the physical things you need to work on, but the spiritual too. We are not only physical beings but spiritual as well. To be functional we need to work on both. Galatians 5:22-23 – 2 Timothy 1:7 – Proverbs 25:28 – Romans 12:1-3

    5. Don't rely just on willpower - According to research you are most likely to revert to old behaviors between 5-7 times before changing your ways (click here) and it takes at least 66 days to develop a new habit. No wonder most resolutions don’t see it past January. Thankfully, as Christians we have a greater power at work in us that can enable us to see things through. The Spirit of God works within us conforming us to the image of Christ. If He is for us – who can be against us? And what is better – we know there is forgiveness and grace when we do slip up. Romans 8:31-39 – Hebrews 7:25 – Matthew 6:33 – 2 Timothy 1:7

    6. Share Christ with others even though the devil will attack youMark 16:15-16 “He (Jesus) said to them (the 11 apostles after He was risen), “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” I don't want to be a decorative stone on the fa├žade of Christ’s Church, but a pillar holding it up. Be the kind of Christian that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan has a panic attack. The Devil himself hates when we speak out and share what Christ has done our lives. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that the Devil is on the prowl, just looking for someone to devour. The Bible is full of accounts of people that not only talked the talk but walked the walk; Daniel, Esther, Paul, Stephen and so many more. All of these people experienced hardships and even death because of what they believe. God has called us who love him, to go into all the world and spread the good news of Christ. If we do that, the Devil will attack, but with the strength God gives us, we can go in to the world without caution or thought of consequences. Think about going on a mission trip. Not all mission trips are to exotic places, but almost all mission trips will change you forever. Between the spiritual preparation before you leave on your trip to the work you will do on the trip itself, God works through you and for you as you see people eager to hear about Christ and as you hear their appreciation for the things you are doing for Him.
    7. Good works – God calls us throughout the Bible to do good works. Helping others is a part of a Christian walk. There are so many people who just need a bit of assistance, and helping others is a great way to set a Christian example. Matthew 5:16 - James 2:14-18, 26; 4:17 - Ephesians 2:8-10 - Hebrews 13:16 - 1 Timothy 6:17-19 – 2 Timothy 3:17 – Galatians 6:9 - Colossians 3:23-24 - Proverbs 3:27-28

    8. Get to know your mom and dad better – For teens: One of the most difficult relationship in a Christian teen's life is with their parents. You're at the beginning of entering adulthood and should be making more and more decisions on your own, but you will always be your parents' child. For everyone: Many times your parents have different viewpoints than you which can lead to a lot of heartache. Yet, God dictates that we honor our parents, so take some time to get to know your mom and dad a little better. Do things with them. Share bits of your life with them. Even a small amount of quality time with your parents will go a long way in helping your relationship. Ephesians 6:1-4 – 1 Peter 4:8 – Romans 12:18


WHAT WE'RE MAKING? DIY TIERED PLATES for under $3 - GREAT for gifts and your home - What to buy at Dollar Tree

Whether you're serving cupcakes or hor d'oeuvres at High Tea, displaying your nail polishes or jewelry, or even as a catch all on your desk, you're sure to have the prettiest tiered item around. GREAT to make and give as gifts.

I bought plates at a local thrift store for 25¢, 50¢ & $1 each. The glass candlesticks I bought at Dollar Tree for $1 each. Some of the gifts I made were 3 tiered, others just 2 like the one pictured. Some plates matched, others didn't. Let your creativity flow! Turn the candlestick upside down and adhere with CLEAR E6000 or E9000 glue - follow the glue's directions.

2 tiers - I made for as little as $2.50.
3 tiers - I made for as little as $3.50.




WHAT WE'RE MAKING? HOW TO MAKE FORT or TENT KIT as a birthday or Christmas gift - ALL ITEMS FROM DOLLAR TREE - DIY







All these items, I found at our local dollar tree, except for the old sheet, and I bought that vintage children's flat sheet at a local thrift store for $1, washed it and viola! I made this Fort Kit for $11 total.










First buy a "Knapsack"

Print out what you want your "knapsack" to say using Word or other program on your computer. I printed it on cardstock so that when I used a Sharpie to trace it, it wouldn't bleed through but you can also put a piece of cardboard or plastic in between as well.


Now fill with different items you find at Dollar Tree that fit with your theme. 

Examples:
Flashlight, glow sticks, candy, popcorn, hot chocolate, clamps or clothespins, rope, children's books, coloring book, markers or crayons, games, lip balm, etc. 







WHAT WE'RE COOKING? PUMPKIN SPICE SYRUP for Lattes and other - SUGAR FREE version too

In a medium sauce pan over medium high heat:
1 1/2 C water
1 1/2 C sugar (or xylitol if making it sugar free)
Cook until sugar is dissolved.

Add:
4 cinnamon sticks
1/8 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground ginger
1 t ground nutmeg
3 T pumpkin puree
Cook 5 minutes - DO NOT BOIL!

The light one is the sugar free and the dark one is fully loaded.

Remove from heat and cool 10 minutes.
Strain through cheesecloth lined sieve over a bowl, use a wooden spoon to stir and push through. 

The syrup can be canned or stored in refrigerator at this point.

Pumpkin Spice Latte
2 T syrup for each shot espresso or 5 oz strong brewed coffee.
Add steamed milk.
Dollop with whipped cream.

WHAT WE'RE COOKING? PEPPERONI CAPRESE BITES


On hors d'oeuvre sticks or toothpicks, skewer:

mini mozzarella balls
fresh basil leaves
pepperoni slices
small cherry tomatoes

In a small bowl, mix:
1/3 C olive oil
1 T Balsamic vinegar
1/4 t garlic powder
pinch sea salt
1/8 t pepper

Serve the sauce with the skewers.

WHAT WE'RE COOKING? ENGLISH PEA SOUP

3 1/2 C frozen peas
3 qt water
1/2 C sugar
1/4 C salt

Bring water to boiling. Add the rest of the ingredients. Cook 4-5 minutes.
Working quickly, drain water & place peas in a prepared ice bath for several minutes to retain color.
Drain well.

To the peas, add:
4 oz creme fraiche
zest of 1 lemon
1 T lemon juice
salt, to taste
Enough water to puree well, about 1/2 - 1 1/2 C

Blend very well and strain through sieve.

Serve warm or cold.

Drizzle with olive oil and/or crispy bacon crumbs before serving.

WHAT WE'RE COOKING? BLUEBERRY SOUP


1 pint fresh blueberries

6 oz plain Greek yogurt
1/2 C coconut milk
1/8 t cinnamon
2 T honey

Place all in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain through a sieve. Chill.


Serve with extra drops of coconut milk & mint leaves.

WHAT WE'RE WHIPPING UP? CHEATER'S CLOTTED CREAM

The whole It's-easy-just-leave-it-in-the-oven-at-180°-for-12-hours seems easy but my oven automatically turns itself off after 8. So there it sat for another 4 hours in the oven before I woke up. I'm going to a tea party today. I need something quick and I don't have time for the crock pot method. This is for you cheaters out there.

8 oz cream cheese, room temp
1/2 C sour cream, room temp
sugar, to taste

Beat it all with a hand mixer for several minutes.

Store in air tight container and keep refrigerated for up to one week.



WHAT WE'RE BUYING? THINGS TO BUY AT DOLLAR TREE

You can buy anything at a dollar store but I find sometimes that you really get what you pay for. At other times I'm shocked at how good the quality of it is and that this is really only a dollar!

No one is paying me to write this. This is all me and my experience. I was able to make almost all of our Christmas presents this year for just under $200 for 38 people and my local Dollar tree helped make that happen.

             Name brand dish soap            Name brand dryer sheets        Name brand fabric softeners

Name Brand anti-bacterial & other cleaners


 Surprisingly the pregnancy tests are great & the acne face scrubs, 
cleansers & masks are just as good as the name brand. 

 Pocket name brand tissues.

 Allergy, flu, Ibprophin & other Rx I've found are just as good as the name brand.

 Name brand toothpaste, toothbrushes (for kids too!), floss, etc. Love the children's shampoo & body washes as I find that my kids go through them quickly...toothpaste too. 


Name brand soaps & DT's brand of hand sanitizers.

Foil pans, party items and name brand batteries. 

Multi pack thank you cards and party invitations, greeting cards are 50¢ each, 
gift bags are 2/$1 or 3/$1. 
Clear goods for parties and events. I love the small silver spoons & forks for high tea parties.
Brand name bags.

Office supplies, especially the paper pads - hors d'oeuvre sticks - name brand spoons (I usually send these in my kid's lunch to school so that if I don't get it back, oh well, it's only 4¢ each since there are 24 in a package.)

Pill boxes are not only great for Rx at home and traveling but also for small crafts supplies.

 Flashlights are great, especially for kids. 

MANY name brand food items that are cheaper than at the regular grocery store:





Kids books - coloring & educational.

There are many, many other things I've bought or would recommend here but these are just some that I saw at the store today. I also saw Pace Picante, Gatorade and much more that I didn't get photos of.