A Stick-To-Your-Ribs Kind-Of Meal

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Autumn! The beginning of that wonderful time of year when hearty, stick-to-your-ribs soups and chowders slowly simmer on the stove, painting lacy patches of moisture on the kitchen windows and offering a warm, welcoming environment for cold, hungry visitors! Several days ago, the weather forecast called for the first chilly Sunday of the season, so I visited our local market and made sure I had all of the right ingredients on hand to create this splendidly delicious soup!

Hamburger Soup
Serves 12

Ingredients
:
2-1/2 pounds ground chuck or lean ground beef
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14-1/2 ounce can whole tomatoes
4 cups beef broth
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally
5 large red potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
shredded cheddar

Directions
:
In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, brown the meat with the onion, celery and garlic. Remove the pot from the heat and drain off and discard the liquid. Return the pot to the stove and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir and then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cover and cook for 20 more minutes until the potatoes are tender. Soup should be somewhat thick, but you can add more broth if you prefer.

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with shredded cheddar. Serve with warm, crusty bread or rolls!
Food for Thought
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

There is nothing more gratifying than being able to offer a warm welcome and a hearty meal to a cold and hungry visitor on a chilly day. In a similar way, as followers of Jesus Christ, we can do the same. When we plan ahead and take the time to prepare by spending time in worship and prayer, reading scripture, and following the leading of the Holy Spirit, we can be ready to offer spiritual nourishment to a cold and hungry world. When we open our arms and warmly “welcome them into our kitchen” (which is anywhere a divine appointment awaits) … we are honored to bless them with the love of God and, in answer to their needs, “feed them” warm and nutritious spoonfuls of His Truth! And when they depart, we will have no doubt the meal we’ve fed them is one that will “stick-to-their-ribs” … because “the word that goes forth out of my mouth shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

— Cheri Henderson
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Slowly Savoring Every Bite …

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There’s nothing better than a Chinese meal when it’s prepared in your own kitchen! As the recipe comes together, the fragrance of ginger, garlic, and soy, warmly sauteing in a bath of sesame and peanut oils, is an enticing preliminary to the joy of sitting down to a delicious meal!

Naturally, this meal would be well-served with chopsticks; however, this woman has never mastered that skill! I’ve been told that using chopsticks is actually a healthier way to eat because it forces you to slow down, eat deliberately, and take smaller mouthfuls of food, resting in between bites and giving your stomach time to tell your brain that it is getting full.

This method of eating would only serve to frustrate me, however. As my husband will avow, I am a very fast eater and can shovel down a meal in three-quarters of the time it takes a normal person to eat it. I believe this is something I learned from my childhood; as the oldest child of six, I discovered eating quickly usually guaranteed seconds! Unfortunately the trait is deeply ingrained, so hand me a fork, knife and spoon, please, and let’s have at it!
 
Beef Broccoli Lo Mein
Serves 4
 
Ingredients:
8 oz. lo mein noodles or spaghetti
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
1 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 Tbsp. peeled, minced fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chopped broccoli
1-1/2 cups sliced onion
1 lb. flank steak, trimmed and cut against the grain into long, thin strips
3 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
1 Tbsp. chile paste with garlic
 
Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. Combine pasta and sesame oil, tossing well to coat.
 
While the pasta cooks, heat peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ginger and garlic; saute 30 seconds. Add broccoli and onion; saute 3 minutes. Add steak and saute 5 minutes or until cooked to a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Add pasta mixture, soy sauce and remaining ingredients; cook 1 minute or until noodles are thoroughly heated, stirring constantly. Serve immediately, refrigerating any leftovers.
 
Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT
 
It’s true I don’t always slow down and eat deliberately like I probably should … and so I understand I’m not receiving the health benefits that go hand-in-hand with doing so. Sadly, there have also been times I’ve done the same thing when it comes to “eating the word of God”. And I’ve learned that to hurriedly read a few scriptures so I can say I’ve spent time with the Lord will absolutely lead to spiritual malnutrition. There is nothing spiritually nurturing about quickly fitting God into my day and treating Him as an afterthought or something less important than all of my other more pressing, “important” (not) daily activities. Just as our bodies need food to stay healthy and operate at peak performance, we need the word of God to feed our souls and strengthen us to resist temptation and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus!
 
I encourage you, therefore, to daily imitate Jesus, and the manner in which He spent time with the Father. Go to a place where you can be alone with God, somewhere quiet and free of distraction. Talk to Him. Worship Him. Praise Him for all He is. Thank Him for all He has done. And then read His love letter to you, the Bible. Don’t hurry through it … savor it, think about it, enjoy it. The word of God is one of our greatest sources of spiritual food. In fact, the Bible talks a lot about how important it is to our lives. Here are a few: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
 
And here is one of my favorites: “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your word became to me the gladness and joy of my heart.” (Jeremiah 15:16)
 
Praying His word becomes … and remains … the gladness and joy of your heart!
 
— Cheri Henderson

A Different Presentation, But Just As Yummy!

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There isn’t a meal more gratifying than this one … particularly if you are a Reuben Sandwich lover! Mix it all together, let it slow cook, and voila! It’s equally as good, if not better than the sandwich model! Granted, it may be a different presentation, but when all the ingredients are there, the taste is just as exquisite!

Crockpot Reuben Casserole
Serves 4


Ingredients
:
1 can (16 ounces) undrained sauerkraut
1-1/2 pound corned beef (raw), with the fat removed and set aside, and the beef cut into thin strips
2 cups Swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Thousand Island dressing
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 fresh tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1 cup soft rye or pumpernickel bread crumbs

Directions:
Place sauerkraut in the bottom of a slow cooker. Top with a layer of beef and sprinkle with half of the seasoning packet that came with the corned beef. Top with the shredded cheese. Combine the mayonnaise and thousand island together in a small bowl and then spread over the cheese. Top with tomato slices. Cut the fat into slices and lay in various spots on top of the tomatoes. Cook on low for 6 hours. Remove and discard the fat strips. Sauté bread crumbs in butter and sprinkle on casserole before serving. Great served with mashed taters or macaroni and cheese!

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT

Just like the Reuben Casserole is a different presentation, the taste is just as exquisite because all the ingredients are there … from a spiritual perspective, so too are our testimonies! When we share the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus are the ingredients of the gospel. And your unique story, your testimony is the presentation! Each of us has a different story of how Jesus saved us, but the gospel “ingredients” are always the same. “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 Amplified

Your story is all yours, and when it’s combined with the ingredients of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the outcome will be exquisite! So share it! Often!

— Cheri Henderson

Glop Some Gołąbki on Your Plate!

Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed cabbage rolls are the epitome of Polish nourishment, and being of Polish heritage, this dish is truly one my family’s very favorites.  Poles call them gołąbki, which literally means “little pigeons”, but they are actually pork and beef, mixed with rice, nestled in a cabbage leaf and typically cooked in a tomato-based sauce until tender.  Even my husband, who is not Polish, considers cabbage rolls to be one of his favorite meals … so glop some gołąbki on a plate and enjoy!

Cabbage Rolls (Gołąbki)
Serves 12

Ingredients

2 large cabbages
32 oz. sauerkraut, drained

4 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, chopped
32 oz. tomato sauce
4 teaspoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1-1/2 lbs. ground beef
1-1/2 lbs. ground pork
2 cups cooked rice
2 white bread slices, crumbled
2 eggs
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon basil
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

3/4 can of tomato juice
1/2 lb. of raw bacon

Directions:

In a skillet over medium heat, in hot butter or margarine, cook onion 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add tomato sauce, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; mix well and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (except the tomato juice and bacon) and roll (24-30) 1/4 cup portions into oblong segments, placing each of them on a sheet of aluminum foil or plastic wrap.

With a knife, carefully pierce the cabbage around the stem (2″ deep or so) and remove the center of the cabbage. Place in a bowl, stem side down, with 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and microwave on high for 10 – 12 minutes. Rinse in cold water and then remove the cabbage leaves (12 to 15 of them) by rolling each leaf from the top to the stem.

Center each of the oblong meat mixtures onto the wide edge of a cabbage leaf, roll the meat mixture up in the leaf, and then fold in the two ends. Replace them, seam side down, on the sheet of aluminum foil or plastic wrap.

Repeat the process with the second cabbage.

Chop any remaining cabbage into bite sized pieces and spread along the bottom of a large roasting pan. Mix the drained sauerkraut into the cabbage.

Place each roll, seam side down, on top of the sauerkraut/chopped cabbage mixture in the base of the pan.

Pour the tomato juice over the top of the cabbage rolls. Lay strips of bacon over the rolls.

Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Cover and continue to bake for another hour. Then lower the heat to 300 degrees and continue to bake for 4 more hours.

Serve with mashed potatoes and enjoy!

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT:

I found it fascinating that gołąbki literally means “little pigeons”. I suppose the reason for this is the cabbage roll must look somewhat like a little pigeon, though I’ve never seen a little pigeon … and the idea of eating one is incredibly unappealing to me! If this meal truly consisted of pigeon meat, it most definitely would not be one of my favorites!

However, since we’re now on this topic … did you know pigeons are considered to be one of the most intelligent birds on the planet? The pigeon is able to recognize its reflection in a mirror and is one of only 6 species, and the only non-mammal, that has this ability. The pigeon can also recognize all 26 letters of the English language and is able to conceptualize, differentiating between photographs and even between different human beings in a photograph.

And, as you probably know, pigeons have often been used throughout history as messengers for delivering communications of great importance. The earliest, large-scale, communication network, using pigeons as messengers, was established in Syria and Persia around the 5th century BC. Much later, in the 12th century AD, the city of Baghdad and all the main towns and cities in Syria and Egypt were linked by messages carried by pigeons, their sole source of communication. Further, their successful use as messengers in wartime resulted in many pigeons being awarded honors by both the British and French Governments.

But did you know a team of Navy researchers recently discovered pigeons can be trained to save human lives at sea with high success rates? Project Sea Hunt has trained a number of pigeons to identify red or yellow life jackets when floating in the water. The pigeons are not only more reliable than humans, but also many times quicker when it comes to spotting survivors from a capsized or sinking boat. The pigeon can see color in the same way that humans do, but they can also see ultra-violet, a part of the spectrum that humans cannot see, and this is one of the reasons they are so well adapted to lifesaving.

Finally, and most importantly, did you know pigeons are mentioned in the bible as one of the offerings required by God to be presented by Abram before the Lord (Genesis 15:9), that pigeons continued to be included among the sin-offerings in Leviticus 1:14; 12:6, and that the Old Testament law permitted those who could not afford to offer a lamb, to instead offer two young pigeons (Levitius 5:7; Luke 2:24)?

Anyone who cannot afford a lamb is to bring two doves or two young pigeons to the Lord as a penalty for their sin“.  So indulgent, kind, and merciful was God to every man, if unable to afford and purchase the better offering, the best he could get would be acceptable; so the poor man had as many offerings for his atonement and cleansing as the rich, and his reparation and forgiveness were as complete as theirs.

What an interesting correlation! In the Old Testament, God required the pigeon as a sin offering for impoverished man: a highly intelligent bird able to differentiate between human beings, the sole source of communication used to deliver a message of great importance, and one able to see and save drowning human beings from their sinking ships.

Doesn’t this sound very much like an Old Testament shadow of the One who was to come? The Only Wise One carrying a message of absolute Truth, the Savior, the Deliverer, and the final Sin Offering for an impoverished man … who even today sees us and is able to save us from drowning in our sins!

Who is this One? His name is JESUS! Hallelujah!

–Cheri Henderson

Bleu, Bleu . . .

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Anybody remember the 1960’s tune, “Love is Blue”? “Blue, blue, my world is blue. Blue is my world when I’m without you.”  Well today I’m re-writing the lyrics a bit!  Everyone sing along!

Bleu, bleu, my meal is bleu. Bleu is the meal I’m about to serve you!

Bleu cheese is one of those unusual foods that people either really enjoy or totally dislike: a cheese that is spotted or veined throughout with blue, blue-gray, or blue-green mold and has a very distinctive odor. Understandably, some people can’t get past the appearance or smell . . . but, if you’re able to do so . . . or if you’re already a bleu cheese aficionado, you’re gonna love this meal!

Black & Bleu Salad
Serves 3

Ingredients
1 lb. of ground sirloin
Small head of chopped lettuce
2 cups of spinach leaves
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
2 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
2 carrots
1/4 cup of coarsely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic
1 avocado
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 tsp. of seasoning salt
Dash of pepper

Bleu cheese dressing (I use the Pine Club brand – delicious!)

Chop the lettuce and remove stems from the spinach leaves and then toss the two together.  Cut the red & yellow bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash and carrots into ¼ inch wide and 2” long strips. Combine all and place in a large frying pan with the olive oil. Add the crushed clove of garlic, chopped red onion, salt and pepper and then sauté for 15-20 minutes or until tender.  While the vegetables are cooking, make 3 ground sirloin patties and grill or fry until done according to your taste.

Divide and spread the lettuce & spinach mixture onto 3 plates. Top with the sautéed vegetables. Apply a circle of avocado slices and halved cherry tomatoes and place the grilled burger right in the center. Drizzle with bleu cheese dressing and enjoy!

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT:
The song says “Blue, blue, my world is blue. Blue is my world when I’m without you”.  But as followers of Jesus Christ, we don’t have to be blue because we’re not alone when we face the trials of this life! Deuteronomy 31:6 says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”  The One who created us, our loving Heavenly Father, is the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end. He is already there in our tomorrows and He knows exactly what we’re going to be facing before we even get there.  Who better to be there before we even arrive? Psalm 46:1-3 says: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”


In Habakkuk 3:17-19, it says: “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, yet I will rejoice in the Lord!  I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.”  Habakkuk’s vision ended with a beautiful word picture: No matter what happens, I will find joy in the Lord and he will make me as surefooted as a deer. Habakkuk does not say that the Lord will make his way easy, but, rather, that the Lord will sustain him along his path.

And so Matthew 6:34 makes perfect sense when it tells us “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself”, and Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you”, and Philippians 4:7: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Blue, blue, I will not be blue. Jesus Christ is with me and He will see me through!

Life.
I can’t control it,
direct it,
correct it,
or perfect it;
but when I submit it,
commit it,
and to the Lord give it,
the burden becomes His and not mine
And whatever the situation that lies ahead,
He’ll give me the grace to endure it,
and someday quite soon,
I won’t even recall it
When the reality of eternity is mine . . .
and there’s great peace in the knowledge of that.

–Cheri Henderson