Thursday, July 31, 2014

Top 10: Back to School Teacher Gift Ideas

The next few weeks for Top 10 Thursdays we will be focusing on the much anticipated or much dreaded....back to school!  We've got crockpot freezer meals coming up, ways to make the morning go smoother, and even ways to make the transition back to school an easier and more pleasant one for you and your student!  But today we start with a really fun one to kick off this series-back to school teacher gift ideas!  This is something that if you're going to do you should definitely start planning or even making now so that when the week of school arrives it's one less thing to do.  Plus, if you involve your child with you in this project they will be that much more excited for the first day to arrive to give their teacher their special gift.  Here are 10 of my favorite back to school teacher gift ideas...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Garden Vegetable Lasagna & Link Up

Hi friends and welcome to another Tasty Tuesday!  I'm so glad you're here!

Today I share an absolute favorite of mine, which just happens to be the perfect way to use up some of those delicious Summer veggies.  While this may not be the fastest dish to prepare with all the chopping involved it is well worth it.  
Either visit your backyard garden or the local farmer's market and try this one right away.   This is the perfect spin on a classic lasagna, and paired with a simple salad you've got a delicious and veggie-packed meal.  Here's what you'll need...
Extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups chopped zucchini
2 cups chopped yellow squash
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups chopped broccoli
1/2 cups flour
3 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese (I used low-fat)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
8-10 lasagna noodles, cooked

After chopping all the veggies, heat a small drizzle of olive oil in the pan and add the onion.  Once they start turning a bit translucent add the garlic for about 3-4 minutes.

Scoop these into a bowl and set aside.  Then add the squash and zucchini to the pan until they start to soften and barely brown.

Scoop these out into the bowl with onion and garlic and throw in your carrots.  Once they start to soften add the broccoli as well.

Once these are soft but still have a slight bite to them, add these to the bowl with the other veggies, salt, and mix together.  Then set aside.

Moving right along.  In a medium sauce pan over medium heat combine the flour with the milk, whisking constantly until you get a small boil (really just a few large bubbles) and the mixture gets thick.  Once it does take it off the heat and add 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.  Once that's smooth stir in the spinach.

Now for your last step before assembling, in a separate bowl combine the cottage cheese with 1 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese and stir well.

Ok it's time to start assembling the lasagna!!
Coat the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2 baking dish begin with 1/2 cup of the spinach sauce.  This is will just barely coat the dish and that's exactly what we want (and it keeps us from having to grease it!)
Arrange a layer of noodles on top of that.

Top this with half of the cottage cheese mixture.
Then half of the veggie mixture.
Then repeat all the layers again, ending with noodles.  Top it off with remaining spinach mixture over noodles and parmesan and mozzarella cheese.

Bake this in a 375 degree oven covered for 20 minutes, then uncovered for another 20 minutes or until the top is nice and golden brown.
Here it is in all it's hot bubbly delicious-ness.
Printable version found here!

Now on to the party!  Last week's features are....

If you were featured feel free to grab a featured button here:
Or the regular party button here:

The Prayer Room

In my church home is a small room tucked away that from the outside looks awfully ordinary, guests might mistake it for a storage closet even.  However behind that door is a prayer room- a sacred place where many a desperate plea, a fervent request, a joyful praise have been uttered.  I have a similar room in the deep recesses of my heart and mind.

Though nobody but the Lord and I know it by heart, it's as vivid and real as the nose on my face.  Being the visual person I am I need a "place" I can run to.  So it's my own little personal private prayer room, and you can find me there when I'm meeting with Him before the day starts or even while stuck in traffic or preparing a meal.  

If I had to describe it for an outsider looking it I would describe it as beautiful but simple, sacred at the heart.  There's a place to sit and cry with my God when my heart is heavy and my mind is worn out.  There's plenty of room to get up and praise Him with all I have in me.  There's a worn spot on the floor where I often hit my knees in desperation to hear from Him. 

The walls are lined with scripture, laced with promises I bring before Him.  Also on the walls of my own prayer room in my mind are framed pictures recounting moments that He came through for me, victories that were won right there, times where He showed up for me.  There's lots of frames.  Full of moments like the time we had that huge bill come out of no where and no way to pay for it, and days later a check came in the mail for an unexpected rebate that matched the amount of the bill.  The time I sought and wept for healing and received much more than what I prayed for, but got to know the Healer Himself like never before.  That miracle that I took before Him with boldness and saw come to life before my eyes.  The times He responded with a "no" and my heart broke-but only for a time until I saw how He had saved His best for me.  The times I turned in my broken pieces and He put them all back together.  The time I took Him the impossible situation and pleaded for His intervention, and then sat back amazed at the way He worked like only He could.  The times I collapse in a heap of tears and frustration  realizing once again I can't do it all and He gently reminds me-no you can't...surrender more so you can receive grace more.  

So many frames of answers, provisions, and grace.  

My favorite thing about my prayer room is who I meet with there.  The King of the Universe.  Creator.  Redeemer.  Restorer.  Healer.  My Jesus.  My Everything.  

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Scripture Sunday

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Ranch Potatoes & Link up!

 Hello friends and welcome to another Tasty Tuesday!  Thanks for stopping by!

Today I'm sharing a delicious side dish that is a favorite around here for 3 reasons:
-super healthy, low calorie
-crazy delicious
-it's in the oven in minutes and I usually have all the ingredients on hand

Around this time we typically always have new potatoes on hand.  From either stocking up at the produce stand or from family and friends gardens (thanks dad!!)  we eat them all the time this time of year.  We recently discovered this dish and cannot get enough of them, hope you all love them too!  

Here's what you'll need:
10-15 red potatoes (depending on size)
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 packed of ranch dressing mix

After washing potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces.  No preciseness required here, but aim for them to be about the same size so they all cook pretty evenly.

Next pour in the olive oil and toss to coat, then sprinkle on the dressing packet and stir to coat with that as well.  

Then pour on a greased baking sheet.

Bake these at 425 for 25-30 minutes.

Printable version found here!

 Now on to the party!  Just a side note-last week was a tad hectic as I was teaching Vacation Bible School at church, so the links from last week haven't been pinned to the Tasty Tuesday Pinterest Board yet.  But, they will all get pinned very soon as I play catch up this week!  Thanks for your patience!  Last week's features are...

If you were featured feel free to grab a featured button here:

Or a regular party button here: