Feelin’ Stronger Every Day!

Salisbury Steak got its start as a recognized food in America when it was used as a source of protein for soldiers during the American Civil War. During that time, soldiers were regularly fed “soldier biscuits” containing dried vegetables or fruit, but the high yeast and low protein of these “meals” began to create disease. One of the most serious threats to the soldiers was “wasting”, a severe and potentially life-threatening physical deterioration with loss of strength and muscle mass due to chronic diarrhea and malnutrition.

Dr. James Henry Salisbury, who served as a physician during the war, became convinced that the troops who were suffering from this condition needed protein (and specifically beef). He tested his theory by providing “chopped beef” to the soldiers and his theory was proven correct! Their health improved, their strength increased, and Salisbury Steak was born!

So if you’re feeling a little weak this evening or if you’re just hungry for a fantastic meal, there is nothing quite as satisfying as a plate of Salisbury Steak nestled in a bed of mashed potatoes and covered with warm beef gravy!

Let’s make some!

Crockpot Salisbury Steak
(Serves: 4)

Ingredients:

For the patties:
– 1 pound ground beef
– 1/2 cup of crushed Townhouse or Ritz crackers
– 1 egg
– 2 tablespoons milk
– 1/8 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 teaspoon pepper
– 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
– 2 tablespoons canola oil

For the gravy:
– 10.5 oz can cream of mushroom soup
– Two .87 oz packets of brown gravy mix
– 1-1/4 cup water
– 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Veggies:
– 2 cups sliced mushrooms
– 1 white onion sliced

Directions:

1. In a large bowl add the ground beef, crushed crackers, egg, milk, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano. Mix together with clean hands; don’t overmix. Form the meat into 4 patties and set aside.
2. In another large bowl, whisk together the cream of mushroom soup, gravy packets, water and thyme until smooth. Set aside.
3. In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil and pan are hot, add the patties and brown on both sides. No need to cook through.
4. Add half of the mushrooms and onions to the bottom of the crockpot. Add the patties on top. Add remaining onions and mushrooms on top of the patties. Pour over gravy mixture.
5. Cover and cook on low for 4.5 hours without opening the lid during the cooking time.
6. Serve over mashed potatoes with a side of green beans or buttered corn!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

As followers of Jesus Christ, we have no shortage of strength and power available to us from our Lord. In fact, the “meat” of His Word, confirms it over and over! (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31) The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. (Psalm 28:7-8) I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:1-2)

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:11) That is some mighty power! And you’ve got it!

So, I encourage you, my friends, to finally be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power! (Ephesians 6:10) You can do all things through Him who gives you strength! (Philippians 4:13)

– Cheri Henderson

Feeling Fried

At the end of a long day when you are beyond exhausted and unable to process another thought, have you ever used the phrase “I am completely fried”? If you have, then you probably know the word “fried” is slang for “tired, worn out, or exhausted”. (It’s also slang for drunk or intoxicated, so be careful that your listeners understand what you mean if you describe yourself in this manner! Lol!)

In this case, I promise you the “fried” chicken presented here is neither exhausted nor stoned, and it is, in fact, one of the most delicious fried chicken recipes you will ever prepare! The last thing you need when you’re feeling “fried”, is a complicated recipe that requires more energy than you have to offer and puts you in a “fowl” mood. This is not one!

So let’s get frying!

Fried Boneless Chicken Breasts
Serves: 2-4

Ingredients:

4-6 thinly cut boneless skinless chicken breasts
1-1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon dried thyme
3-4 dashes of hot sauce
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup of milk stirred with 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and let sit for 15 minutes)
Canola cooking oil – enough for frying (about ½” in a large skillet)

Directions:

Combine hot sauce and buttermilk. In a separate bowl (or a zip-loc gallon bag), combine the flour, seasonings, and herbs together. Heat the cooking oil over medium heat until heated. Dip the chicken into the buttermilk, dredge in the flour mixture, and add to the hot skillet. Fry on each side, turning every 3 minutes until cooked (cooking time is 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the chicken).Serve with warmed barbecue sauce and buttered corn on the cob, or some mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

So, are you feeling a little “fried”? I hope that your times of exhaustion are few and far between or, even better, non-existent. But I know that life, at times, can simply wear us out … as we’re busy doing life, juggling responsibilities, facing deadlines, pressure, and stress, and trying to get it all done. If you are battling exhaustion or weariness, it is in those times that Jesus says “Come away with me. Let us go alone to a quiet place and rest for a while.” (Mark 6:31)

Your world won’t end if you take a break. The Lord is fully in control and “in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17) … even your little piece of the world. If you stop and catch your breath for a minute, everything is not going to fall apart. In fact, this is where faith comes in. Even though you may be completely exhausted, if you refuse to take a break, could it be you lack the faith to believe God is in charge and He can handle things without you?

Come away with Jesus to a quiet place and rest for a while. He will refresh and restore you because He loves you. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) “I give strength to the weary and increase the power of the weak.” (Isaiah 40:29)

– Cheri Henderson

“Say Cheeseburger Soup”

Most of you have heard the phrase “say cheese” to encourage the appearance of a smile when being photographed, whether felt or not. Have you noticed, however, in old photographs from decades past that this obviously wasn’t the case? No one ever seemed to smile! Why? During those days, the elite and powerful were the only ones who could afford to have photographs taken of themselves, and they would remain stoic because smiling was seen as flighty and only something the lower class or children would do. And in those instances where less fortunate individuals could perhaps afford a photograph or two, they would imitate the norm.

In both cases, perhaps the photographer should have said “say cheeseburger soup” instead! That startling suggestion might have prompted a true smile or even a laugh from both parties! In any event, I guarantee a few sips of this delicious soup will definitely bring a little smile to your lips and joy to your belly!

Cheeseburger Soup
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

4 small russet potatoes peeled and diced
1 small white or yellow onion chopped
3/4 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup diced celery
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
3 cups chicken broth
1 pound lean ground beef
3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 package (16 ounces) Velveeta processed cheese

Directions:

Place potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, dried basil and parsley in a large crock pot. Pour chicken broth over vegetables. Cover with lid. Cook on low heat 6 to 8 hours OR on high heat 4 to 5 hours or until potatoes are tender.

About 45 minutes before serving, cook and crumble ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain any grease. Pour cooked ground beef into crock pot. Carefully wipe out hot skillet with a paper towel then add butter. When butter is melted whisk in flour and cook until golden brown and bubbly (about 1 minute.) Whisk in the milk, salt and pepper. Pour mixture into the crock pot and stir to combine everything. Add the cubed velveeta cheese or to the crock pot. Stir again. Cover with lid and cook another 30 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serve and enjoy!


FOOD FOR THOUGHT:


How sad that back in the day a smile was something less than desirable and, even more so, no one was bold enough to counter that philosophy with something that would shatter the lie, bring joy to the heart and a real smile to the lips. Sure, cheeseburger soup might bring a moment’s pleasure to the pallet, but real joy isn’t found in a sip of soup. It’s found in the salvation of a Savior. When this becomes a reality in your life, I guarantee that when you say His name, it will bring a smile to your lips and joy to your heart! Just “say Jesus!”

– Cheri Henderson

Be Well!


Wassail is a delicious beverage made from hot apple cider and mulling spices, and has been associated with Christmas and the New Year as far back as the 1400s. An annual tradition of passing on good wishes among family and friends, wassail was (and still is) part of the English Yuletide celebration of “wassailing”, the practice of going door-to-door and singing songs of joy and blessings to the neighbors.

Wassail gets its name from the Old English term “waes hael”, meaning “be well”, and it was a Saxon custom that during the Yuletide celebration, the lord of the manor would shout the blessing to his gathered friends and family. So, whether you’re planning to carry a thermos and a few styrofoam cups as you go door-to-door in song or just open up your home to family and friends for a holiday celebration, this recipe will provide them with a wonderfully delicious cup of wassail!

Wassail (Hot Spiced Cider)

Ingredients:

1 gallon apple cider or apple juice
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
4 cinnamon sticks
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole allspice

Directions:

In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, combine the first 5 ingredients. Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves and allspice equally in 2 or 3 coffee filters. Bring up the edges of the filters and secure each with a small, clean rubber-band. Add to the pan. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until flavors are blended (do not boil). Discard the spice bags.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

No matter the time of the year, there is nothing more beautiful than to be able to bless someone in the Name of the Lord. In fact, the lyrics from one of the most popular wassailing carols goes like this:

“Love and joy come to you,
and to you your wassail too,
and may God bless and send you
a happy new year,
and God send you
a happy new year.”

The writer of this song may or may not have known that the real source of love and joy is only found through a relationship with Jesus Christ. I pray this is true for you, however, and that God, our Heavenly Father, will bless you abundantly as you live a life dedicated to His Son, the One who died to save you.

And with that, I will shout “Waes hael!” “Be well!” Or even better, 3 John 1:2: “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul!”

– Cheri Henderson

The Blessing of the Bounty

It’s summertime, and the garden is producing massive quantities of zucchini right now! So, using the blessing of the bounty that is at hand, what’s for dinner tonight? Zucchini Lasagna!

Now don’t scrunch your nose; after all who said pasta noodles are an absolute lasagna requirement? Rigid expectations when it comes to cooking long-recognized entrees can limit inventive approaches to creating new and equally delicious entrees … new entrees that can still please the “old-schoolers” and also appeal to the “carb-conscious” gang! So, let’s get creative and produce something that, just like the old-school recipe, can wonderfully fill the tummies of our friends and family.

Zucchini Lasagna

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

1 lb. ground beef

1 zucchini – sliced thinly (4 cups), don’t peel

1 8-oz. can tomato sauce

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. tabasco

½ tsp. sugar

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 onions – finely chopped

1 tbsp. butter

4 oz. cream cheese

½ pint sour cream (1 cup)

½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs

Grated parmesan cheese

Paprika

Directions:

Brown beef. Stir in tomato sauce, salt, tabasco sauce, sugar, Worcestershire sauce. Cook 5 minutes on low. Stir in onions. Butter 10 x 6 casserole dish. Layer ½ meat, ½ zucchini.

In a bowl, blend cream cheese and sour cream. Spread over the top. Sprinkle with paprika. Cover with breadcrumbs. Sprinkle with parmesan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.

Serve with garlic bread and a side of wide buttered noodles for the carb lovers!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

In a similar way, rigid expectations regarding worship music from “old-school” church members can limit inventive approaches by younger members in creating new, spiritually nurturing worship experiences. On the flip side, however, as contemporary Christian music has become more and more popular over the years, hymns have become less and less prominent in many churches. As such, I suggest that during each worship service, hymns should be included along with the contemporary music to provide a complete benefit to all who have “come to dine”. Granted, as Christians, our whole lives should be a living sacrifice of worship to God, but undoubtedly, praise and thanksgiving through song play a big role. So, let’s “use the blessing of the bounty”: the creative musical talent of our young people along with that of our Christian forefathers to create a biblically sound “entrée” that will provide for all who are partaking.

-Cheri Henderson

“No Need to Stew” Stew

The word “stew” originated from a late 14th century Old French word, “estuver”, meaning “to bathe, to put into hot water”. Later in the early 15th century, the definition was expanded to include “to boil slowly, to cook meat and vegetables by simmering them in liquid”, and in the 17th century, the expression “stew in one’s own juices” was birthed, meaning “to be left to the consequences of one’s actions”.

Collins Dictionary goes on to define some of the “stew” phraseology and explains that when a person “stews”, it means they are angry, upset, agitated, anxious, or alarmed over something or someone. If someone is ”in a stew”, that person is in a difficult situation that causes them to feel worried or upset. And if you “let a person stew”, you deliberately allow them to worry about something for a while, rather than telling them something which would make them feel better.

I, however, have decided not to let you stew over the fact you have no decent “stew” recipe because this is one you will absolutely love!

“No Need to Stew” Stew
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

1 lb. beef top round roast, cut into 1” chunks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter
1 white onion, cut into ¼” pieces
4 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼” pieces
3 celery stalks, cut into ¼” pieces
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon garlic salt
16 oz. beef broth
14.5 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
14.4 oz. can old and white corn, undrained
1 large russet potato, scrubbed and cut into ¾” cubes
1 cup frozen peas

Directions:

Lightly season beef with a pinch of salt and pepper. In a large soup pot, heat the butter over medium until melted. Add the beef and sauté until browned on all sides about 10 minutes. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until vegetable are tender about 10 minutes. Stir in the flour, garlic powder, garlic salt, and 1 teaspoon each of kosher salt and pepper. Cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add the broth, tomatoes, corn and its liquid, and potato. If necessary, add additional broth to just slightly cover the ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the meat and potatoes are tender, about 90 minutes. Add the frozen peas and simmer, uncovered, until the peas are cooked, but still bright, 5 to 10 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and serve with a side of cornbread if desired.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

As followers of Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 tell us “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” As I read this scripture, it reminds me of the mercy and sweet comfort I have experienced through Jesus Christ. What a loving Father I have that He would have given His only begotten Son just for me, knowing that “left to the consequences of my own actions”, I would have perished for eternity. I needed a Savior and by believing in my heart and confessing with my mouth His Son, Jesus Christ, as my Lord and Savior, I shall not perish, but have everlasting life. I am now a child of God and with this privilege comes responsibility. We are not comforted to be comfortable, but to be comforters. We are called to comfort those who are in trouble, not let them “stew in their own juices to be left to the consequences of their actions”. Is there someone you know who is “in a stew” right now? Pull them out … and drench them with the Living Water of Jesus Christ!

–Cheri Henderson

On Guard, Mon Ami!

Folklore suggests Napoleon Bonaparte was the first to taste an omelet when, after travelling across southern France with his army, they decided to rest for the night at an inn near the town of Bessieres. Supposedly the following morning, the innkeeper created and served Bonaparte a fluffy egg concoction and named it the “omelet” in Bonaparte’s honor. “Omelet” or “omelette” is a variation of the French word “amelette” which means the blade of a sword, inspired by its curved, flattened shape. It is thought the omelet was created in recognition of Bonaparte’s successful victories using an unsheathed sword.

Who would have ever guessed an omelet was first created to resemble a sword? So, “on guard”, my friend! Let’s have some breakfast!

Mozzarella, Sweet Onion and Mushroom Omelet (Serves 2)

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons butter
½ of a sweet onion, sliced into thin 2” strips
4 oz. of fresh baby bella mushrooms
6 eggs
4-1/2 oz. of shredded mozzarella

Directions:

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a small, shallow frying pan. Sauté the sliced onion and mushrooms, stirring often, for approximately 5 minutes until the onion is translucent and tender. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set them aside.

In a small bowl, briskly whisk 3 eggs. In the fry pan, melt another tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Evenly pour the eggs into the pan and after a minute or so when the egg starts to bubble, lay half of the vegetables and 2 oz. of shredded mozzarella on half of the egg mixture. Slowly lift the other half and fold it over onto the vegetables and mozzarella. When the cheese has begun to melt, remove the omelet from the pan and onto a serving plate. Sprinkle with a bit more mozzarella. Cover to retain heat while preparing the second omelet.

Serve with sliced avocado and/or crisp bacon!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

Bonaparte is also credited with this interesting quote about the sword: “There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run, the sword will always be conquered by the spirit.” Followers of Jesus know that Ephesians 6 explains our need to be covered in spiritual armor, and verse 17 specifically tells us to “take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Hebrews 4:12 says “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

For most of Napoleon’s life, his personal religious beliefs might best be described as agnostic; however, near the end of his life, Bonaparte offered this commentary about Jesus Christ. “I know men, and I tell you Jesus Christ was not a (mere) man. Superficial minds see a resemblance between Christ and the founders of empires and the gods of other religions. That resemblance does not exist. There is between Christianity and other religions the distance of infinity. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and myself founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon sheer force. Jesus Christ alone founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men will die for Him. In every other existence but that of Christ, how many imperfections!

From the first day to the last, He is the same; majestic and simple; infinitely firm and infinitely gentle. He proposes to our faith a series of mysteries and commands with authority that we should believe them, giving no other reason than those tremendous words, ‘I am God.’

The Bible contains a complete series of acts and of historical men to explain time and eternity, such as no other religion has to offer.

If it is not the true religion, one is very excusable in being deceived; for everything in it is grand and worthy of God.

The more I consider the Gospel, the more I am assured that there is nothing there which is not beyond the march of events and above the human mind. Even the impious themselves have never dared to deny the sublimity of the Gospel, which inspires them with a sort of compulsory veneration.

What happiness that Book procures for those who believe it!”

So said Napoleon Bonaparte. To come to these conclusions, he evidently read a bit of the “sword of the Spirit”. The living, active word of God, sharper than any two-edged sword that Napoleon would have ever wielded during his life … pierced him to the division of his soul and spirit. And he recognized the truth of Jesus Christ.

–Cheri Henderson

Thanksgiving: An All-Year Event!

As you consider preparing this recipe, it is likely Thanksgiving Day, a time when this meal is most typically enjoyed. I’ve never been one who necessarily follows every dot and tittle of holiday menu protocol. For example, there have been years when I’ve been known to prepare cabbage rolls, chicken spaghetti, or pizza for Thanksgiving! Today, over 6 months away from Turkey Day, my husband and I were able to happily savor every morsel of this wonderful feast. And rather than wait months down the road to share this great recipe with you, I wanted you to have it now so you could also relish it whenever you wish throughout the year! Regardless of what day it is, this is a meal to be enjoyed all year long!

The Best Baked Turkey
(Serves 20-25)

Ingredients:
23-25 lb. turkey
½ cup and 1 tablespoon of garlic-flavored olive oil
12 oz. beer
½ tsp. and a pinch of cayenne pepper
4 crushed garlic cloves
1 tablespoon coarse-ground black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups chicken stock or broth
¼ cup corn oil
1 cup water

• Injection Liquid: Mix ½ cup garlic-flavored olive oil, 4 oz. beer, and ½ tsp. of cayenne pepper

• Paste: Mix 4 mashed garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon coarse-ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, pinch of cayenne pepper, and 1 tablespoon garlic-flavored olive oil

• Baste: Mix 2 cups chicken stock or broth, 1 cup water, 8 oz. beer, and ¼ cup corn oil

The day before baking, empty the turkey cavity (saving and refrigerating the giblets in a zip-lock plastic bag), rinse and pat dry with paper towel, tuck wing tips under the back and tie legs together. Inject “Injection Liquid” with a kitchen syringe the turkey in a half-dozen places, moving needle around in each spot to shoot liquid in several directions. Massage “Paste” inside and out and under the skin. (Do not tear.) Place turkey in plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.

The day of baking, remove turkey from the plastic bag and insert meat thermometer into thickest part of the thigh (not touching the bone). Bake at 325 degrees. Cover with aluminum foil tent after turkey begins to turn golden. Baste bird every 30 minutes with “Baste”. Turkey is done when thermometer reads 180 degrees or leg moves easily in joint.

Remove from oven. Let stand for 15-20 minutes. Slice.

The Best Turkey Gravy
(Serves 20-25)

Ingredients:
Turkey neck and giblets
2 onions, copped
2 carrots chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
4 bay leaves
Few sprigs of fresh thyme
9 tablespoons of fatty juices from the turkey
9 tablespoons of plain flour
6 cups whole milk
3 teaspoons sea salt
1 envelope Pioneer Brand Country Gravy mix

While the turkey is baking, place the turkey neck and giblets in a saucepan with the vegetables, herbs, and 5 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Save 3 cups of the giblet broth, drain the rest, dispose of the vegetables, and chop and reserve the giblet meat. (Refrigerate if early in the day.)

To make the gravy, siphon 9 tablespoons of fatty juices from the turkey roasting pan into a saucepan and stir in 9 tablespoons of flour. Cook, stirring for about 1-2 minutes until lightly browned.

Stir in the chopped giblets, 3 cups of giblet broth, 6 cups of whole milk, 3 teaspoons of seasoning salt, and 1 envelope of Pioneer Brand Country Gravy mix. Bring to a boil, stirring and then reduce to medium high heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Season to taste.

Crockpot Mashed Potatoes
Serves 16-20

Ingredients:
10 lbs. red potatoes, cut into chunks (peeled if you prefer)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cubes chicken bouillon
16 oz. sour cream
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup butter, softened
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes, garlic and chicken bouillon cubes. Cook potatoes until tender, but still firm about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water.

Mash or rice the potatoes and mix with the sour cream and cream cheese, adding reserved cooking water to reach desired consistency. Transfer to a large crockpot, cover, and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours. Just before serving, stir in butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

For followers of Jesus Christ, thanksgiving is more than an eating extravaganza . . . and it’s more than a one-year event, isn’t it? Every day should be a day of thanksgiving for us because, as Psalm 92:1 tell us, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.” Psalm 118:24 goes on to say, “This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Notice, it doesn’t say we only rejoice and give thanks to the Lord when things are going well, the sun is shining, and it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. It has nothing to do with a particular day, a happy celebration, or a wonderful life. It has everything to do with who He is and who we are in Him. It’s a life-long celebration of thankfulness that will continue into eternity.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

–Cheri Henderson

Craving the Same!

One of my very favorite movies is the 1987 romantic comedy, Moonstruck, starring Cher and Nicolas Cage. It’s a story about an eccentric and passionate Italian family and their daughter, Loretta, who finds romance through the intervention of the Manhattan moon, the “Bella Luna!” It’s a lighthearted movie my husband and I have watched many, many times and without fail, every time we do, my husband comments how watching the movie characters eat their Italian meals with such enjoyment makes him wish he had a plate of Italian pasta he could eat at the same time!

One of these “Moonstruck-watching” evenings, I think I’ll accommodate his craving … and serve him this wonderfully Italian meal!

Pasta Fagioli
Serves 24

Ingredients:
2 lbs. ground beef
6 cans (14-1/2 oz. each) beef broth
2 cans (28 oz. each) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 jars (26 oz. each) spaghetti sauce
3 large onions, chopped
8 celery ribs, diced
3 medium carrots, sliced
2 cups canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups canned kidney beans, rinsed and rained
3 tsp. minced fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp pepper
1 (or more if preferred) tablespoons of hot pepper sauce
12 oz. uncooked medium pasta shells
5 tsp. minced fresh parsley or 1-1/2 tsp. dried parsley

In a large stockpot, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Add broth, tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, onions, celery, carrots, beans, oregano, pepper and pepper sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered 30 minutes. Add the pasta and parsley; simmer, covered, 30 minutes or until pasta is tender. Serve with hot garlic bread! And if desired, top each serving with a small dollop of sour cream.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

In the same way my husband craves a plate of Italian pasta every time he watches the movie, “Moonstruck”, oh how I wish the lost would look upon me in the same way! That they would consistently see the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control that only comes from a life surrendered to Jesus Christ … and would hunger for the same. Hunger for Him!

Have you ever been out late at night, driving on one of those open stretches of country road, where the road seems to go on forever and there’s not a vehicle in sight but your own? Then, in the distance, the faint glimmer of a motorcycle headlight begins to approach from the opposite direction. As it draws closer, you feel a slight apprehension because it seems to be hugging the center line just a little too closely for your comfort. It isn’t until it’s about to zip past you that you realize it’s not a motorcycle at all, but a car with a burnt-out right headlight.

One evening after experiencing this misconception for probably the umpteenth time in my driving career, this time the Lord had something to say about it. “How many of my children are walking through their lives with only half of my light shining forth? When only half of my light shines forth, the ones in the darkness see you as something other than what you truly are. You are unrecognizable as my own and perceived to be something other than what I have called you to be.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – truly let the Spirit lead, guide and direct you so my Light will FULLY shine forth from you to every person who crosses your path. I have seen you as you worship me with abandon in the sanctuary. Worship me in the same way in your daily encounters with others. For I have called you to be the light of the world. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Our lives are being noticed by friends, relatives, co-workers and neighbors. They are watching us.

Let’s make ‘em hungry!

 

–Cheri Henderson

No Loafing!

Most of us have been under shelter-at-home orders for the past several weeks because of the Coronavirus threat and, as I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s been very challenging to say the least. But it has also afforded us with some time to do things we perhaps haven’t been able to do in the past … like prepare scrumptious comfort foods and warm, nourishing meals for our loved ones! One of my husband’s favorite comfort meals is a thick slice of homemade meatloaf, lightly drizzled with some ketchup and cozied up to a hot side of macaroni and cheese and rich baked beans.

I once read a great quote about meatloaf in the magazine, Bon Appetit, that said “when we cook meatloaf, we’re connected to something bigger: a tradition. Meatloaf is elemental. It’s enduring. And if comfort foods are those that are not only an answer to hunger but also an existential balm, served without undue fuss or expensive implements, then meatloaf rules the category. It reigns supreme. It’s the fluffy caftan of comfort foods.”

So what do you say we quit “loafing” around, and get on with the business of delivering, as Bon Appetit would suggest, “an answer to hunger along with a little healing balm”? Let’s make a meatloaf!

Marvelous Meatloaf
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons salted butter
½ cup of finely chopped onion
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
4 ounces (1 sleeve) of saltines, crushed
1-1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
½ cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ketchup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine the beef, cooled onion, crushed saltines, cheddar, eggs, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. With your hands, gently mix the ingredients together until well blended. Don’t overwork the mixture.

Place the mixture evenly in a 6” x 9” loaf pan.

Drizzle the ketchup down the center of the loaf and brush it over the top to cover.

Bake until firm about 1 hour. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Serve warm.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

Meatloaf, though confined to a pan, is not meant to remain that way for hours, days, or weeks, wouldn’t you agree? Its design, its destiny, is to serve the hungry. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, even in the midst of a shelter-at-home environment, are also designed to serve the hungry, and we should not allow confinement to be an excuse for “loafing” around. A time of rest is a gift, and an initial, brief rest can be beneficial, but if we loaf too long, we can become spiritually weak, cold to the needs of those around us, and ineffective for the Kingdom.

We have an exceptional opportunity to let our faith shine right now, to live the gospel even from within the confines of our own homes. There are hungry people throughout the world right now who are confused, threatened, fearful and confined. We have the “answer to their hunger” and we know the One who is the healing balm, the Balm of Gilead.

Phone calls, social media messages, and handwritten notes, pre-marinated in worship and prayer, seasoned with truth, and delivered with love are examples of some great “work” we can do from home. Work can absolutely carry on from confinement! And with great effectiveness and power! A perfect example is Paul, who was quite the letter writer, wasn’t he? In fact, here’s a sentence from one of his letters: “For which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!” (2Timothy 2:9) Paul spent most of his ministry “quarantined” in prison or under house arrest, and yet his correspondence with sisters and brothers in Christ yielded half of the New Testament! The gospel is never bound!

“Whoever loafs in his work is a brother to him who destroys.” (Proverbs 18:9) Time is too short for loafing and I certainly do not want to be associated with the one who destroys.

For such a time as this, we’ve been placed upon this earth, and work done for God’s glory lasts for eternity. What I do today can last forever.

Let’s work while it is still day, saints!

 

–Cheri Henderson