“…and served with a side of Pepto”

Ok please watch one of my favorite comedians: Jim Gaffigan talk about Hot Pockets (you will better understand the title to this post)

There now aren’t you glad you watched that and laughed hysterically? I am laughing just thinking about all of you laughing ūüôā

After watching him talk about Hot Pockets I never purchased them again…true story.

Now I make my own ūüôā

Homemade Hot Pockets

Ingredients

2 packages crescent rolls

Melted unsalted butter OR olive oil

Your choice of protein (ham, chicken, pepperoni, sausage)

Your choice of cheese (swiss, mozzarella, cheddar)

Your choice of sauce (homemade ranch dressing, pizza sauce, or marinara)

Your choice of seasoning (original blend or italian)

Directions

Preheat¬†oven to 350¬ļ F

Break open each package of crescent rolls. I use these all natural ones from Immaculate Baking Co.

They will be perforated right in the center, so break it in half. Use a small rolling pin to roll them out. (So two packages make four HUGE hot pockets. We usually just share two between the four of us and put the other two in the fridge for leftovers. We never eat a whole one especially if we are having other sides like fruit, veggies or a salad).

Spoon your sauce¬†on first and then place your¬†protein and cheese on top.¬†(I made ranch, ham,¬†and¬†swiss¬†this time…but you can use the other ingredients mentioned above to create a “Pizza Pocket”)

Place one side of the crescent roll over top of the other and connect the edges together by pinching. Use a knife to cut slits on the top of the hot pocket.

Spread melted butter or olive oil on top of the hot pocket and sprinkle on your seasoning.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until crust begins to brown. (Note: Usually I just do whatever time it says on the back of the crescent rolls)

Again, these make four huge hot pockets. So they serve 4 or 8, depending on how hungry you are ūüôā

Yum, look at that cheesy, gooey center. ENJOY!

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Heaven IS Real!

I want to write today about something that has really been on my mind a lot this last year. I feel it is a very important message to share. I am kind of stepping out of my comfort zone (talking about my kids, sharing recipes and DIY¬†haha)…..but I really hope you enjoy these stories!

Colton’s Story

A lot of you have probably read the book Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo.

Here is Amazon.com’s description of the book (stop reading if you don’t want some of the story given away)

Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn’t know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.
Colton said he met his miscarried sister whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how “reaaally big” God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit “shoots down power” from heaven to help us.
Told by the father but often in Colton’s own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready there is a coming last battle.
 

I highly recommend this book for ANYONE! I couldn’t put it down. I finished it in half a day.

I think one of the main reasons I was so intrigued by this little boy’s story is because my family has a similar one. One that I want to share with my friends and¬†blog readers….

Ryan’s Story

 

The following is something that was read at my cousin Ryan VanderMolen’s funeral. He passed away before I was¬†born. I grew up hearing¬†about his dream¬†and other funny, heartwarming¬†stories about my cousin’s short time here on earth. I can’t wait to meet Ryan in Heaven!

“Our son died Thursday upon returning from kindergarten at the Immanuel Lutheran School in Waterloo, Iowa. Ryan got off his school bus, walked a block on the sidewalk and began crossing the street in front of another stopped, off-loading school bus. When he was in front of the bus, the vehicle struck him down when restarted, causing fatal head injuries.
We would like to share Ryan’s dream with you. Ryan had talked of heaven to his parents on occasion, but always with reservation, “I would miss you and you would miss me,” he said.
Tuesday night, Ryan had the dream. He told his mother about it the next morning. “Mommy, I had a really great dream last night. I dreamt that I was in heaven. It’s really great and I want to go there.” Wednesday morning he shared his dream with a special friend on the school bus.That night he also shared his dream with his father. Thursday morning at breakfast Ryan said to his mother, “Mommy, remember that dream I had? Heaven is really great and I want to go there.”¬†
That afternoon Ryan was killed and his dream came true.
The Lord had come to take Ryan unto Himself. We grieve and hurt deeply, Jesus did also. “The Lord gave and has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21.
God does not make mistakes. He has given all of us a great gift in Ryan’s dream. His dream is a witness to the world of the reality of heaven. We have also been given grace through his dream to understand, at least partially, the purpose of Ryan’s death. God’s Holy Spirit lifted us up by your prayers and gave us strength.”
– Gary and Barb VanderMolen.
 

My cousin Brett was born fifteen months after his brother Ryan’s death. In Brett’s 2000 high school junior year, Brett wrote in a life history project that two people died for him: Jesus Christ and his brother Ryan, of whom he’d seen neither. Brett thought his family might have remained complete with only Ryan and Megan.

Brett wrote:

Brothers
Where did Ryan go?
He was only so young.
He had a dream one night
that he shared with his tongue.
Two days before he died,
he heard angels that sung.
With those heavenly hosts,
he now is among.
 
The splendor of heaven,
pure as lace.
The sound of the trumpets,
and the look on Your face.
What joy he must feel,
to be in Your grace.
To be in Your arms,
what  a wonderful place!
 
His dream was heard by many,
but followed by few.
Some got the idea;
many don’t have a clue.
That our days are numbered,
for Ryan it was two.
I pray that my loved ones
will also choose You.
 
-Brett VanderMolen.
 
 

Justin’s Jesus

I am not sure how it happened that I live in Iowa Falls and I had no idea about the next mom’s story! Our town is so small and usually stories like these travel fast. But for some reason God didn’t want me to hear about it until months later….

Mary Swick called up my mom’s Christian Bookstore¬†back in¬†December while I was working one day.¬†I was not¬†suppose¬†to be¬†working¬†and had actually switched days with other employees two times. (God doesn’t make coincidences, I was meant to be working that day!) Mary called to see if our store would carry the book that she was about to have published.

I began asking her questions about the book and she told me about her son Justin that had passed away of SIDS at 3¬†months old back in August. She also told me about her son Riley that had began telling them stories about the night Justin died. Riley kept telling them he saw Jesus and an angel in the room that night. He also told them they shouldn’t be sad, they should be happy because Jesus took Justin up to heaven. Riley even¬†told them stories about heaven like he had been there.

Mary shared this story on her Facebook page back in August and had a bunch of people tell her to read the book Heaven is for Real. Of course, she couldn’t put it down and finished it in a few hours. Mary was so glad she read the book when she did because it helped give her a road map on what questions to ask her 4 year old son. She didn’t want to lead him¬†to a certain answer but wanted to know more about what he had seen in the room the night their baby boy had died. She wanted Riley’s story to come out in his own words.

During this time Mary began writing a blog.¬†Click here to¬†read her blog. (And grab a box of tissues while you are at it)¬†She¬†talks about her family’s tragedy and writes more of the accounts that Riley has shared with them over the last five months. But, what I love reading most is about¬†how her family’s faith in God has grown exponentially in the few short months since Justin’s death. She is so very candid about her pain, sadness and even her joys!

Mary decided she wanted to help other families heal from the loss of a child. I am not sure exactly how it happened but she began using some of her blog posts¬†to write her book Justin’s Jesus. She also put stories in her book that she hasn’t shared yet and were very hard for her to write about, like what happened the day Justin passed. It¬†has been published by WestBow Press. Mary is very adamant that this book is for her family and friends and if it helps other’s along the way then that is what God wanted. Even if she only helps ONE other family, it is worth it. She wants other families to know that in losing a child you can find hope, because you will one day see them again in Heaven. That is what gets Mary through each day. She wants others to find that same comfort.

I was so touched by Mary’s story and she was gracious enough to get off the phone with me and immediately send me a copy of her manuscript. I.Could.Not.Put.It.Down! Again, I finished it in a few hours, bawling my eyes out the entire time (ask my husband haha).

I have only met with Mary a few times but she is such a blessing! I hope that her and I have many more years of friendship because it is so refreshing talking with her! 

If you are interested in reading her book you can purchase it online at Barnes and Nobel.com

But of course, you know me, I always push the BUY LOCAL route. So you can call up your local bookstore and request a copy. Usually books come within a few days of the store ordering them (so about the same wait time as ordering online). The store will need the ISBN number: 978-1-44973-616-3

If you live in Iowa Falls my mom’s bookstore The Living Well is taking orders right now for it and it will be available in¬†about a week. Call 648.3611 to get your name on the pre-order sheet.

I guess you could say I have kind of made it a personal mission to help Mary get the word out about her story, in hopes that it will help other families dealing with loss or even help those that are questioning the reality of heaven.

My Thoughts

I think all three stories have remarkable similarities! The message is simple.

Heaven is REAL!

Jesus LOVES us!

Are you ready?

I grew up my entire life being scared of death. When I was young I hadn’t faced much death yet but like my cousin Ryan I knew I would miss my family and friends if I were to die. In high school and college I didn’t want to die because I still had so¬†many goals¬†left to accomplish: my degree, finding a job, getting married, having children of my own.

Reading Heaven is for Real was amazing for me. It really validated my cousin Ryan’s story. My family has believed this story for 30 years, but to have other children’s accounts of Heaven is very reassuring. Hearing Mary’s story was no coincidence either and has made me realize how much we need to be a WITNESS for Jesus. Even if we haven’t had glimpse of Heaven, we can still share our story.

I can now say from my strengthened relationship with Christ, studying and praying His word,¬†and also from reading the books like I mentioned above:¬†I AM EXCITED! I can’t wait to go to Heaven. Are you kidding me?! I get to see JESUS FACE TO FACE! There is no pain and suffering. What a glorious place it will be……We can’t even begin to imagine!

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Mashed Huh?

So I apologize in advance for the next two to three months recipes. They will be really boring or really quick and easy. I am currently doing a homeopathic diet that ranges anywhere from 1 month to 3 months depending on how much I would like to lose. So the food I am feeding my family is less than stellar.

I went my¬†whole life not really understanding why women always said “Oh I *NEED* some chocolate!” Anytime someone would talk about craving sweets I couldn’t relate. I had (and still have)¬†a major “salt tooth.” Back in elementary school my friend Jessie and I had been known to down a whole family size bag of Doritos¬†during one episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?¬†(Who’s with me? That was some scary stuff to watch on a Friday night in¬†3rd grade)

Anyways, after I got pregnant with my daughter Kenley, I finally realized the problem all women were referring to. I *craved* everything¬†sugary and sweet, I even began enjoying FRUIT! But let’s not kid ourselves, I¬†gravitated more towards the chocolate cake then that strawberry.¬†I figured after the pregnancy the cravings would¬†leave and I would go back to my “salt tooth”

Wishful. Thinking. The cravings never subsided and we are going on year FIVE of my sugar addiction.

So that brings me back to my¬†diet. I want to ENJOY carbs and sugars.¬†I don’t want to CRAVE¬†them. I don’t want to feel like I have to have them every day to get by.

As you can tell from my blog I really enjoy making food for my family and trying new recipes and foods¬†I have never¬†had before. I think I would be insane to force myself to totally eliminate carbs from my¬† life, but I would like to adjust the amount I am taking in each week. Also, after my diet I plan to¬†make desserts more¬†of a “treat” and allow myself to indulge only once a week.

So¬†I decided to start from square one and totally cleanse and detox my body and the way it processes and metabolizes¬†food. So far the diet has been great and pretty easy (lost 8 lbs so far!). I haven’t been craving anything, I feel energized and refreshed. I still have a ways to¬†go though. So keep me in your prayers these next¬†couple months as I try and continue cooking for my family while I limit the foods I eat.

********************************************************************************

Now back to this recipe.

Ya’ll¬†are gonna think I’m CRAZAY!!! (apparently the diet makes me southern).

But this is something my mom has done for years, and I of course have now followed suite.

She makes mashed potatoes but uses CAULIFLOWER.

You are probably thinking DISGUSTING! Right?

Wrong!

The first time my hubby had this my mom and I didn’t tell him what it was. Half way through dinner Marcus says “Heidi, these are really, really¬†good mashed potatoes.”

We looked at each other like ‘Ok, who wants to tell him?’ My mom replied, “Well actually, its cauliflower.” He was surprised and couldn’t believe it, but that didn’t stop him from scarfing it down.

I kid you not, every time we make this dish EVERYONE thinks its mashed potatoes. Sometimes we don’t even tell them our little secret.¬†So please, TRY IT! You won’t be disappointed.

Mashed Cauliflower

Ingredients

2 heads of cauliflower

Milk

Melted Butter

Fresh pressed garlic (or garlic salt)

Fresh cracked sea salt and black pepper, to taste

(Below are substitute ideas for ingredients)

Directions

Cut off the leafy part of the cauliflower. You don’t have to cut off too much because you want to use the stems.

Wash the cauliflower, cut it into large chunks, and place it in a large pot with water filled to the top.

Note: One head of cauliflower only yields about four servings. So we usually make two heads of cauliflower because it stores well in the fridge for leftovers if we don’t eat it all.

Boil for 30 minutes or until the cauliflower is fork tender.

Mash with a hand mixer and then add your favorite mashed potato ingredients. I usually just use some milk, melted butter and fresh garlic or garlic salt. Little by little I add the milk and butter until it gets to be the just-right-creamy-goodness consistency.

You could also substitute half¬†and half for the milk. Sprinkle on some cheese. However you make your mashed potatoes. Doesn’t matter. A friend asked about sour cream and I have never made it that way so I am not sure?¬†Hmm. I was just thinking. I wonder if bacon would be good in it. I mean¬†bacon does make everything better. Also more fattening. But you are eating mashed cauliflower for heaven’s sake, a little bacon can’t hurt ūüôā

I served our mashed cauliflower with some chicken and (over cooked. OOPS) broccoli. I just put some broccoli in the bottom of a crock pot and placed the chicken on top. Seasoned and poured 1 box of organic cream of chicken soup and 1 box of organic cream of mushroom soup. Cooked on low for 6 hours. Next time I need to figure out how to not cook the broccoli so long.

I also served it with my favorite salad but added some avocado chunks to it (find that recipe here)! YUM!

There you have it. Now go make yourself some mashed cauliflower. I promise it will change the way you eat the stuff ūüôā

I would love to hear from any readers that try this. Let me know what you think!

ENJOY!

Posted in About Food, Main Dishes, Sides & Snacks | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Scrambled Egg Muffins

This recipe I actually saw on a commercial for a grocery store when we lived in Ankeny. I kept forgetting to make these for my family. I wasn’t reminded of these until my obsession with Pinterest began (you should follow me ūüôā it’s addicting).

Anyways, here is a fun easy breakfast recipe your kids and hubby are sure to enjoy.

Scrambled Egg Muffins

Ingredients

8 large eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 tsp baking powder

Fresh cracked sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Your favorite omelet toppings, cooked or sautéed.

(Note: This time I used red and green peppers, onions, and 8 Jones All Natural Sausages. Other options: broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes, ham, bacon, any kind of shredded cheese to sprinkle on top (before putting in the oven)

Directions

Preheat¬†oven to 375¬ļ F.

Heat the sausages in a skillet and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Saute veggies in a little bit of olive oil until tender.

Lightly spray a 12-cupcake pan with oil. Spoon out the sausage and veggie mixture evenly into each cupcake.

Ladle the egg mixture over sausage and veggies. Top with cheese, if desired.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. 

ENJOY!

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Before & After: Living Room

The living room was a pretty simple makeover.

Just needed a few fresh coats of paint. We went with a satin base of Valspar’s¬†Sweet Jasmine. The trim and around the windows we used¬†a semi-gloss base of Valspar’s off the shelf white.

The only thing we purchased for this room were some great (inexpensive) bamboo blinds from Wal-Mart (found here)

Then I also decided to try my hand at sewing curtains(YIKES)! You can read more about how I sewed them here.

The only thing we still have left to do is paint the front door and find another bamboo blind for the smaller window.

Here are the pictures

BEFORE

PROGRESS

AFTER

It seems like kind of a subtle change in the paint color but the white trim makes it look so much brighter.

BEFORE

PROGRESS

AFTER

Here you can see the paint change better. And notice we put a little door knob stop on the wall after we put a whole through the wall opening it up too quickly one day ūüôā I still need to find some silver door knobs (instead of the gold) and I need to get two more baskets so they all match.

PROGRESS

AFTER

I am still wondering if I should paint those shelves white? I feel like they add so much darkness to the room.

Anyways thats about it for our simple living room makeover!

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Sew Curtains in 10 Easy Steps

I basically copied how to sew my living room curtains from a blog post @ Young House Love. So if you want more detailed instructions click here.

I did make a few changes, mainly because I royally screwed up when measuring and was 5 inches off on each side. (yea, yea I know…Hey, I am a beginner!) Sadly, if I would have done this correctly from the beginning it probably would have taken me an hour or less to whip these babies out (excluding wash time). So I could have named this post “Sew Curtains in 10 Easy Steps in Less Than an Hour!” But again, since I measured wrong it took me about a day because I had to go out and find more fabric and then figure out how to sew a panel on the bottom. JEESH!

But anyways….. let’s begin.

Step 1: Find Fabric

Sounds easy enough. NOT IN RURAL IOWA! I searched high and low, all over the state for some fabric.¬† But I couldn’t find any that I loved.

So my search continued on the web, where I found an awesome fabric store called Tonic Living. Love. Love. Love. Funky. Stylish. Colorful. Quality.  just a few words I would use to describe all of their wonderful fabric.

I went with this fabric because our walls are yellow but we also have some green in the room. You might not be able to tell online but it is more of a chartreuse color. I also LOVE gray, it is such a great neutral.

I purchased 5 yards. Next time I will do a bit more just to be safe.

Step 2: Wash Fabric

Don’t skip this part. You always want to make sure you pre-shrink the fabric before sewing.

Step 3: Iron Fabric

Step 4: Measure three times.

Measure from your curtain rod to your floor. Measure that again and again and again.

Then measure your fabric to the length you will be cutting. Measure again and again ūüôā

Step 5: One more time for good “measure”

Seriously, how I screwed up on this part I do not know. Go ahead measure one more time so as not to make the mistake I did.

Step 6: Cut

I used the rug to get even lines and make sure each panel lined up. (genius! Thanks Sherry from Young House Love!)

Step 7: Iron each side

I like to iron rather than pin because it is a faster. I iron about a half inch seam.

Step 8: Sew

I sewed a straight stitch along each side.

Step 9: Repeat step 7 and 8

I wanted it to have clean, finished looking hem. So I repeat and fold over the one seam onto itself again. And sew.

Again, for more details on all the sewing steps click here.

Step 10: HANG

I used some curtain rod ring clips from Wal-Mart. I think they were like $4 (bargain!)

DONE!!

But…..¬†in my case, since I measured WRONG I had to have like a million other steps. I had to go out and find more fabric so that I could sew a 5 inch panel on the bottom. Ugh…what a pain. Now I know, for the next time, to measure, measure, measure!

But I am VERY pleased with the look with having the panel at the bottom. So it ended well ūüôā

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Santa’s Cookies & Elf Donuts

This recipe comes from my cousin’s¬†husband, Dave. They are soooo mouth-watering, good. I think we have had the recipe for about¬†four months and have made it at least six times. Every time someone eats one they immediately ask for the recipe. So I figured¬†“Santa” would really enjoy this midnight snack ūüôā¬†

My Helper

Our Supplies

Note: We doubled this recipe to make close to 50 cookies for all our Christmas parties!

Dave’s Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons milk

1 bag of¬†miniature Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (24)

Directions

Preheat¬†oven to 375¬ļF.

Stir together flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a mixer cream together butter, sugar, peanut butter, and brown sugar until fluffy.

Beat egg, vanilla and milk together in a small bowl and add to peanut butter mixture.

Pour flour mixture over everything and mix well.

Shape cookie mixture into balls. (I actually skip this part because I use my handy, dandy Pampered Chef Medium Scoop which makes the PERFECT size to fit into the mini-cupcake pan!)

Place in an ungreased mini-cupcake pan.

Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes. (Note: My mom’s oven actually takes 8 minutes, mine takes about 12 minutes. You do not want the cookies to start turning golden brown. Then they will be over-done. They will cool in the pan so they will still have a chance to “bake” a bit more).

While cookies are baking, unwrap Reese’s Cups.

Immediately press Reese’s cups into the hot cookie and let cool in the pan.

All ready for “Santa” to enjoy!

We¬†couldn’t¬†forget about Limey & Lolly (read about them here).

So we made them some little donuts to enjoy.

I took Cheerios and uses a toothpick to dip them into melted chocolate. Then covered with Christmas sprinkles and placed in an Altoids Tin. (Got this idea from here.)

On Christmas Eve Kenley set out the treats for Limey, Lolly and Santa!

Posted in About Food, Dessert | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments