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

Warning! Garlic Ahead!

27331832_10214656203417048_5096134799804782722_nI LOVE any recipe that calls for garlic (and I’m sure many who have crossed my path at one time or another have come to a quick realization of that fact!) Not only is garlic a delicious addition to many recipes, it is good for you! Garlic contains vitamins C and B6, manganese, selenium and other antioxidants. Recent evidence-based research also suggests garlic may be effective against high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, cholesterol, colds and some cancers. 

 
As we all know, however, along with the benefits of garlic, comes a lingering odor some people find offensive.  That’s because when minced or crushed garlic is ingested, it releases volatile sulfur compounds that can offend those with a sensitive sense of smell. The potent compounds are absorbed into the bloodstream and then become vaporized while going through the lungs. Furthermore, the garlic aroma is not limited to your breath; it is also excreted through your pores and is a lingering “fragrance” that can last for twenty-four hours or more after consumption. And if you eat it on a regular basis, you’ll like earn a reputation and notice some people purposefully dodging you because of the offensive fragrance that consistently emanates from you.  Still, it’s SO worth it!  And this recipe, in particular!
Chicken & Bacon Pasta in Garlic Cream Sauce
Serves 4
Ingredients
6 bacon strips, cooked, drained, and crumbled
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp Italian seasoning
 2 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes (drained)
7 oz. diced tomatoes with green chiles
3 cups of fresh spinach, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/3 cups Half & Half
1-1/3 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 tsp. salt
10 oz. penne rigate
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, for serving
Directions:
In a small skillet, fry the bacon, drain, and crumble. Set aside on a paper towel,
In a separate, large skillet, heat olive oil on high heat until hot. Keeping the burner at high heat, add chicken breasts, sprinkle with paprika and italian seasoning, and cook on one side for 1 minute. Flip the chicken over and cook on the other side for 1 minute. Remove chicken and slice into thin strips. Reduce the heat to medium and place back into the pan for several minutes until no longer pink in the center. Remove 2/3 of the chicken from the pan and keep warm.
Add tomatoes, spinach, garlic, and half of the bacon and mix together. Add half & half and bring to a boil. After the half & half starts boiling, add grated Parmesan and immediately reduce to simmer and stir for 1-2 minutes (no more than 2 minutes) until the cheese melts and the sauce is creamy. Then immediately remove from heat. 
Add the salt, stir in the pasta, the remaining bacon and strips of chicken. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and serve with a fresh, green salad! Wonderfully delicious!
 
Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT:
In a similar way, the reactions received by others to a consistent consumption of garlic is a good analogy for what we, as followers of Jesus Christ, will experience when we continually spend time in His presence, read His Word, worship, honor and live for Him. As we daily “taste and see that the Lord is good”, we will be filled with His presence and have the unmistakable “scent” of Christ.  2 Corinthians 2:14-16 says “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. The Message Bible quotes that verse this way: “In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma rich with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.” 
 
I LOVE Jesus! He is the Giver of Life and He is so very Good! I pray I am consistently emanating the exquisite fragrance of Jesus to everyone I encounter … and that the aroma is pleasing to you. If it isn’t, it can be! Taste and see, my friends!
 
-Cheri Henderson

Chicken Hunters!

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Another Henderson recipe favorite is Chicken Cacciatore! Did you know that Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian? In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a meal prepared “hunter-style” with onions, herbs, usually tomatoes, and sometimes wine. So what do you say? Let’s go hunt us some chicken and make up a batch!

Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore
Serves 4-8

Ingredients:
2-3 onions
2-4 pounds chicken (breasts or thighs, skinned and boneless)
1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine or broth
2 tablespoons capers
20 pitted Kalamata olives, chopped coarsely
1 bunch fresh parsley or basil, stemmed and coarsely chopped
Kosher salt and pepper
Cooked angel hair pasta

Directions:
Place sliced onion in the crockpot and cover with chicken. In a bowl, stir tomatoes, salt, pepper, garlic, and white wine together. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, or until chicken is tender. Stir in capers, olives and herbs just before serving. Serve over cooked pasta.

Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT

Just like a “chicken hunter” goes after the main ingredient to create a wonderfully nutritious and appealing meal, so too, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are to be “soul hunters”, going after the lost ones so they can give their hearts to Jesus, experience new life, and become part of a spiritually nurturing, beautiful Body of Christ! And Jesus said unto them, “Go everywhere and announce the good news of Jesus Christ to every living person you meet. He who believes [in Me] and is baptized will be saved [from the penalty of God’s wrath and judgment]; but he who does not believe that I died in their place as the penalty for their sins and rose from the dead so that they, too, could do the same, will be condemned to an eternity of isolation, darkness, burning wind, and flames of unquenchable fire“. (Mark 16:15-16)

“I love them too much to see this happen! So get busy! Go hunting … and bring them to Me!”

— Cheri Henderson

Molto Delizioso!

chicken & mushroomsObviously, one of my favorite pastimes is preparing a great meal in my own kitchen! However, there are times when a delicious meal at a local restaurant is equally gratifying.  Dominic’s Italian Restaurant in Dayton, Ohio, was a perfect example.  Though the owners retired from the business and closed the restaurant several years ago, it was, at one time, one of my husband’s and my favorite places to dine. The moment you walked through the doors, you were greeted by a rich blend of aromas: basil, garlic, oregano, melted cheeses, toasted breads, and chardonnay.  Mmmm.  Every entrée was “molto delizioso”, and we never had a meal we didn’t like.  One entrée, in particular, was overwhelmingly “delizioso”, and I remember the evening my husband gazed into my eyes with great desire as he asked . . .“do you think you can make this?”  From that point on, we tasted and analyzed each bite, trying to pinpoint every ingredient that made up this incredible masterpiece.  With time and a little practice, this entrée has now become one of our favorite homemade recipes!

Ingredients:

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup of flour
4 garlic cloves
Seasoning salt & pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ lb. jarred sliced mushrooms (drained)
1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons of Chardonnay (or white cooking wine)

Directions:

With a meat mallet, pound out the chicken breasts.  Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into frying pan and begin heating on medium high heat.  Dip chicken breasts in flour and place in pan. Sprinkle lightly with seasoning salt and pepper. With a garlic press, press one garlic clove over each breast and brown for a minute or two.  Flip the breasts and continue to brown for a minute or two. (Add more olive oil if necessary.) Turn heat to medium. Drain mushrooms and pour on top of the chicken. Pour lemon juice over the chicken and then pour over the cooking wine. Turn heat to low. Cover. After 10 or 15 minutes, turn heat to simmer. Continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes.  Serves 3-4.

Food for ThoughtFOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Because my husband and I were totally captured by the flavor of this restaurant entree, we wanted to be able to experience the same in our own home . . . and although Dominic’s is no longer a place we can visit, the joy of what they introduced to us remains.  In the same way, as followers of Jesus Christ, the fruits of the Spirit should be so evident in our lives, that a hungry world would crave to experience the same . . . to taste and see that the Lord is good!  That such a sweet fragrance of Jesus Christ would greet the spiritually malnourished who “walk through our doors”, they would be captured by our aroma and overwhelmingly drawn to the Bread of Life!

Oh, may this be our song of praise!  “Let us give thanks to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:14), and one day when were are no longer here, the everlasting joy of what we have introduced to the formerly hungry will remain and multiply!

–Cheri Henderson