Friday, January 13, 2017

winter salad with citrus poppyseed vinaigrette




Never in my life can I remember January 12th equaling 70 degrees.  Not in any way, shape or form.

But January 2017 in Nashville has beat all odds.  Ugh.

I honestly cannot even believe this weather.  While many might be thrilled, I am not at all happy with having to remove my light sweater while walking Hoosier at 9:00 AT NIGHT!

Double, "Ugh!"

This snow-loving girl is going to be really disappointed if the semi-snow we got last weekend is all that's coming.  Surely not?!?  But with 60-70 degree days in the ten-day forecast, I can't say I'm too terribly hopeful.

Dearest Winter... Please come back.

I will act like it's the season it's supposed to be and share my newest, and John's favorite, salad.  I had put together a lunch for my dearest friends and coworkers as my Christmas gift to them a few weeks back, and I was trying to think of something to freshen up the menu.  It included this beef stew, Ma's cornbread, and a spice cake.  I knew I wanted color and I knew I wanted citrus.  So, I started thinking about some things I enjoy and put it all together to make this salad.  I've made it two more times since.  John is crazy about it.

This is so incredibly easy and just as pretty in a big 'ol punch bowl on the table.  The goat cheese crumbles paired with the bright dressing is a winner.  If you wanted to, you could add some grilled chicken - or better yet - salmon, and it would be a delicious meal all by itself.

So until Mother Nature decides to right her wrong, I'll make this salad, put on a tank top, turn down the thermostat and get my Winter on in one way or another.

Winter Salad with Citrus Poppyseed Vinaigrette 


For the Salad
  • mixed salad greens
  • mandarin oranges, drained
  • pomegranate seeds
  • goat cheese crumbles
  • Craisins 
  • toasted walnuts
For the Dressing
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp diced onion
  • 1 tsp Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • zest of half an orange
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
1. Layer all salad ingredients in large bowl.

2. Place juices, sugar, onion, mustard and salt in blender and mix.  Add oil in steady stream to emulsify.  Stir in zest.

3. Dress salad right before serving.

Recipe from The Lazy Daisy Kitchen.




Friday, January 6, 2017

weekend cinnamon rolls




Let me start out by saying that my favorite thing about this recipe is the fact it comes from my newest cookbook, My Recipes from Ruth's Kitchen, which is a collection of recipes beloved by John's great-aunt, Ruth, and put together by her daughter-in-law.  Let me tell you, it's a treasure trove of recipes, many of which came from Ruth herself and others contributed by close family.   I adore the intermittent stories behind some of the contributions, the family history woven throughout is endearing, and I love the nostalgia.

From what I understand, Ruth was not only an incredible cook, but she was quite a well-known candy maker around town, especially at Christmastime.  Every single one looks like such a treat!  I am already counting the days until the Christmas 2017 season, so I can give them a try.

And then there's the icing... Oh, my goodness-gracious, sakes alive.  It is absolutely delicious.  I did substitute the milk or half-and-half it called for with whole cream.  Maybe that's what took it over the top. 

These really are simple, hence the name of them.  And most of you, if not all, should have all ingredients on hand.  These rolls don't even require yeast, which is why I wanted to give them a try.  They had me intrigued, that's for sure.

If you are looking for a yeasty, fluffy roll, this is not it.  You'd be better off with my Amish Cinnamon Rolls, or better yet, Heavenly Cinnamon Rolls.  But if you think you would enjoy brown sugar and cinnamon all nestled in a spiral, flaky, tender, biscuit-like pastry, this is the recipe.  I'm hoping to make another pan this weekend and take to some neighbors that just moved in, which means there will happen to be an extra pan of them just lying around.  Hmm... wonder what I'll do with those?

With the slight let-down that always follows the week after the holidays for me, nothing sounds better than firing up the Keurig and popping these babies in the oven on a cold Saturday morning. Thank you, dear Lord, for the warmth and comfort even the simplest of life's pleasures can bring.  

What's your favorite sweet roll at sunrise?

Weekend Cinnamon Rolls

makes about 16 rolls

For the rolls
  • 4 cups self-rising flour
  • Buttermilk 
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 1 stick butter or margarine
  • Brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup)
  • Cinnamon (I used 2 tsp)
For the icing
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • half-and-half or milk heavy cream to make a fairly thin glaze
1. Cut shortening into flour until it resembles meal.  Stir in enough buttermilk until dough leaves side of bowl (I used about a 1/4-1/2 cup).

2. Place dough on a well-floured surface and knead a few times.

3. Roll out dough into a rectangle (about 10x20-inch) about 3/8-1/2 inch thick.  Soften the butter to spreading consistency. Spread over the surface of the dough.Spread the brown sugar over the butter and sprinkle with cinnamon.

4. Roll up the dough along the long edge; I used a bench scraper (like this one) to help lift it off the counter and help prevent sticking.  Pinch the edge of the dough to seal.

5. Cut the dough into 3/4-inch slices.  Place the rolls (touching) on a greased cookie sheet. (I used two cake pans for mine).  Bake at 425 degrees until lightly browned.

6. Meanwhile, mix the powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla with enough cream to make the glaze.  Spread the glaze over hot rolls and serve immediately.  





Sunday, January 1, 2017

forever is a long time




Writing has always been a love of mine.  And it is even more so when I have music to inspire.  As the first day of the new year has been approaching, like so many of you, I've been thinking about how to begin it.  I've wanted to put my thoughts down as I did here a year ago and reflect on what has been and I hope will be for the days ahead.  The title of this post has been rolling around in my head for quite a while.  At times the words have brought me a little angst, but many times they've brought peace.  As I sat down to write this afternoon and turned on Pandora to my "Quiet Worship"station, It Is Well With My Soul was the first song to play.  Couldn't have been more fitting.

Growing up, Mom and Dad did some really great things as parents.  One thing I have appreciated as an adult is the value they always put on forever.  Of course their expectations for me were set at times with the "Beacause I said so," phrase we have all heard.  But more than that, they really ingrained in me the idea of how might my decisions matter in a hundred years.  Giving rules and boundaries for the sake of them really wasn't their style.  The bigger picture was always the setting, and so when it was time for me to leave their home, I had already learned to think through life with the larger impact in mind.  Does that mean every decision I made was right? Heaven's no.  And please know that those last two words should be bold-faced, quadrupled underlined and in 150 font.  But a compass had been established, and I'm so glad I didn't have to start the journey of finding my way at 18.  

Last week during our stay with family, my grandmother sat me down and gave me a box that contained the necklace you see here.  She had the wedding bands she and my grandfather chose on their 20th wedding anniversary and the cross pendant Popie gave her on their 25th soldered together to give to me.  Of course, I was an immediate puddle when I opened it up.  To see the band I remembered vividly on Popie's finger for most of my life now forever connected to my grandmother's along with the cross... well... there are just no words.  It moved a deep place in me that I can't explain. I've worn it every day since.  It's as though I inherited this tangible piece that embodies forever-ness. A real representation of what our family has experienced since my grandparents married in 1946. Lives lived together in good and bad times, yes, but built in unity upon the One who is forever, for forever.  It's what matters.

Last year I began a campaign I called, "Before My Feet Hit the Floor."  You can read about it here. It didn't take long for this small, tiny practice to become a habit, and now I crave waking up to see what God has to say to me.  Exactly one year later, I continue to hear His voice every morning. So many, many times, it's as though the words on the screen were meant just for me.  They speak to my life at that very moment, they bring comfort, they challenge, they forgive.

In this new year, I'm committing to remember the setting in which my thoughts, my actions, my words to my boys and John and the world reside.  As my parents taught me to do throughout childhood and especially those difficult teenage years, I want to think about the bigger picture, In a hundred years... I want it to come before I respond to a loved one when frustrated, before I make a big life decision, or before I choose even the smallest of options.  In a hundred years... What would happen if that preempted everything?  What kind of wife would I be?  What kind of mom?  What kind of daughter of the King? Perspective.  It would certainly put things into perspective.

So as I lay down my head tonight, I will begin this new endeavor.  I committed to one last year that challenged me the moment I woke up.  This one will close out my evenings of 2017. Whatever is on my heart for the day, whatever is rolling around in my brain that sometimes won't quit, whatever is keeping me from living in the peace God has called me to, I will look at it from the larger vantage point.  Because in a hundred years, it may or may not matter.  In a hundred years will be my forever and that is a very, very long time.  And when my forever matters to me, then it naturally affects the forevers of those I love and of those I might not even know.  And that is what will really matter in a hundred years.

Love and light to all in 2017,
Jen