Sunday, March 13, 2016

Take My Dreams

Growing up, we all have a mental image of how we think our lives will turn out.  It starts with a young desire to save all the kitties of the world, so you're going to be a veterinarian.  Then, your five year old whim evolves into a nine year old desire to be a famous ballerina.  (Or, was that yesterday's goal?)  A few years later, a more mature desire takes hold of being a wife and mom, getting a degree, serving on the mission field, or something of the sort, in the future.  Living in the country, on a farm, as you get older and grandchildren would be nice, if you think that far in advance.  You know the pattern!  We call them dreams or aspirations and they set the course for which we follow.  But, what happens when those dreams don't play out and the road swerves from our projected destination?  What happens when it's time for something to happen according to our schedule (whether it's getting that scholarship from your dream college, getting married, or it's time for a bigger house)?  This subject has been on my heart, lately, and I have been reminded of the following verses.

"There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand." 
Proverbs 19:21

"Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that." 
James 4:13-14

I think foremost, we should be reminded that although this is our life, it's not really ours.  If we profess to be Christ-followers, then our lives are His to use.  (I have a tendency to get caught up in little ol' me and my ambitions.)  Now, this doesn't mean we can't dream or have desires, but ultimately He is the one Who leads and charts out the map of life.  Sometimes, He even gives us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4)!  Knowing that He is ultimately in control, helps keep discontentment at bay, although it's not always an easy battle.  Keeping this our focus enables us to live life according to His time-table and not our own.  We are never overdue for things, as His timing is perfect and best.  This is something I know in my head and have to consistently pray through, so my actions follow suit. "If the Lord will..."  Too, we oftentimes believe if a dream is Godly or even Biblical, then it's guaranteed to happen.  "Children are a reward from the Lord and I desire a big family, so I know my quiver will be full."  Or, "I use this talent for the Lord's glory, so I know I'll be this or do that."  However, we often forget that even though it might be a worthy desire, sometimes the Lord has something even better in store or He is using this time to prepare or work in us.    

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."  
Isaiah 55:8-9

I'm reminded of how many times I have longed for something to happen, but it didn't.  Looking back, I can thank Him for sparing me from my wants, because He had a better plan.  I can take comfort in the fact that He sees the big picture and even though my view might be hazy or short, I can trust Him.  So, what do we do with our dreams?  We offer them to the Lord to do with what He wills and allow Him to become bigger than our dreams.  For then, He will fill those crooks and crannies that make up our longings and He, Himself, will be enough (no matter the outcome)!

"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Matthew 6:10

Monday, March 7, 2016

Cheesecake Ice Cream and Mixed Berry Topping

Cheesecake ice cream...creamy, tart, rich, and topped with just plain yumminess.  "Cheesecake ice cream" is synonymous with special occasions, in our house. Such as it was, today.  It was my sister's spiritual birthday and we celebrated!  This is one of our favorite special treats.  I'm a huge fan of cheesecake, but if you are wanting the flavors, without the crust, this is for you!  It's definitely not on the nutritious list and contains white sugar, but celebrations call for splurges.  Am I right or am I right?  This ice cream is all things cheesecake...we're talking the traditional, velvety-smooth texture, a hint of citrus, and tons of richness!  And...oh, the topping.  You'll be tempted to just sit down and eat it with a spoon.  It's like berry preserves!  Yum!  I have had this recipe in my recipe book, for some time, and it hasn't failed me, yet.  The original recipe is by Emeril Lagasse (here), but I gave it several tweaks, after my first attempt.  (It didn't make enough and I didn't want to buy 10 blocks of cream cheese!)  So, let's get down to the good stuff...


Ice Cream Base:

2 - 8 oz Cream Cheese (softened)
1 Cup Sugar
2 Cups Sour Cream
1 Cup Half and Half (or Heavy Cream)
2 Cups Milk
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Mixed Berry Topping:

(+/-) 2 Cups Mixed Frozen Berries (Mine had blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries.)
1/3 Cup (less or more to taste) Sugar 
1/4 Cup Water
Splash of Lemon Juice


Rock Salt for Ice Cream Maker


Mixed Berry Topping:

In a saucepan, combine ingredients and bring to boil.  Lower heat and let simmer until thickened and desired consistency.  Make ahead and chill.  

Prepare ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.  Set aside.

Ice Cream:

In a mixer, beat cream cheese at medium speed until soft and smooth.  Gradually add the sugar, beating well.  Beat in the sour cream, half and half, and milk (cream cheese may stick to bowl, so scrape down sides with spoon).  Add lemon juice and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Transfer ice cream mixture to ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer's instructions.  I have a traditional ice cream maker and cover my ice cream maker with ice and let it sit for several hours, after it is complete.  (You can store left over ice cream in freezer, but be sure to slightly thaw before re-serving.)

I always make this ice cream, several hours prior to serving and let it sit under ice.  (It's too soft to serve immediately and it's too hard in the freezer.)  I haven't made it to the patent office, yet, but making your ice cream in a cooler is the way to go.  :)  It makes it mess free and easy to clean up.   

And so, we ended a special day, with a special treat and made sure to get our T-Tapp workout in...  ;-)

What is your favorite dessert for special occasions?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Grain-Free Fruit Crisp and Blog Beginnings

It brings back fond memories to have a blank screen staring back at me.  It's been years since I've blogged and I've missed it!  A lot has changed since my "That's Sew Taylor" days, but a lot has stayed the same.  Before I get all sappy, let's get on to the first of many recipes to come...

Gluten free has become a part of our lives, over the past few months and I have actually enjoyed it.  It's definitely trial and error, but we have been able to have the occasional sweet treat thanks to such sites as Pinterest (ahhhh).  With the warmer NC weather has come a little dose of spring fever and what is better than a fruit crisp?  Not much, I'd say.  I'm one to prefer a tart dessert, any day, and this fits the bill.  A medley of fruits is garnished with a totally grain free (but oh-so-yummy) crumb, that bakes into a crunchy, granola-ish topping.  It has become a make-often favorite, in our household (and I only found the recipe, a few days ago).  This crisp is simply sweetened with maple syrup, which gives it that flavor I so love!  Anyway...I adapted this recipe to make a small (4-person) crisp and just eyeballed the measurements.  You can't mess it up!

Original recipe in black (my changes in teal):

Grain-free Mixed Berry Crisp (Vegan)
serves 8-10
6 cups fresh berries –  I used a combination of quartered strawberries, whole raspberries, and whole blackberries.  (I eyeballed the amount of fruit and used what we had in the freezer...I would say it was about 3 cups of frozen blueberries, peaches, strawberries, and some raspberries, thawed and drained.)
1/4 cup arrowroot starch (tapioca or corn starch will also work)  (I prefer arrowroot starch and used a little over an 1/8th cup.)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (Halved)
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey (Halved the maple syrup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (Halved)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (Halved)
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional) (Did not use)

Crumble Topping: (I used half of each of the following,..)
1/3 cup raw walnuts 
1/3 cup raw hulled sunflower seeds (I used pecans, instead.)
1 tablespoon chia seeds or flax seeds
3/4 cup almond flour or almond meal
1/4 cup arrowroot starch (tapioca or corn starch will also work)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1/4 cup coconut oil solidified or butter, chilled and cut into pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 

I will definitely be making this, often, especially in the summer months!  Enjoy!