Tips For the Best & Easiest Grilled Dinner

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We’re one of those families who uses the grill all year long.  We grill while on vacation.  We grill in the winter.  It’s just hard to beat dinner cooked outside!  Add a couple perfect sides and you have a dinner you’re glad you stayed home for!  Let me give you a few of my favorite tips for a fast and delicious grilled meal.

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Tip #1 – Shorten the time on the grill

Grilled Chicken is so good with that charred flavor! But it takes so long to cook over the coals that it’s hard to:

  1. Be patient enough to stand out in the sun for an hour.
  2. Cook the meat to done-ness without burning charring it to a crisp.

My favorite way to speed up the process is to use the crock pot or oven and pretty much cook the chicken.  That way I have dinner prepped and on its way, and it’ll only take about 15 minutes to finish the main dish.

At that time, I (which means my husband!) will just heat up the grill and put the meat on long enough to add the  barbecue sauce and get it thick and caramelized. By then it also has gotten that nice grilled flavor!

I don’t do this for most other meats, but it’s a time-saver with chicken! I also like to do my ribs in the crock pot first so they’ll be tender. See pic below!  Mmmm!

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Tip #2 Make the perfect baked potato

If you ever had a potato from Red Lobster, you’ll understand when I talk about the potato skin being crispy and salty.  I never do mine in the microwave, but the method I use is so simple and easy to prep.

  1. Wash and dry potatoes.
  2. Place on a foil-line baking sheet.
  3. Spray the potatoes with cooking spray on all sides. Pierce each with a knife.
  4. Sprinkle course salt over all sides.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for one hour.

The potatoes will be crispy, salty and delicious!  I prep them and get them into the oven early in the day, then set the oven to auto bake.  It comes on when it’s time and is ready for the table when the meat is being taken off the grill! When I do a sweet potato, I slip it into foil and bake it for an hour at 400.  It doesn’t need the process done for the regular potato.

Tip #3 Microwave the corn.

I know there are some good tips to cook corn on the grill, but for ease, I started using this microwave method a couple years ago.

  1. Shuck the corn and wash ears.
  2. Remove silks.
  3. Wrap a paper towel around each ear. Run it quickly under water to wet the paper towel.
  4. Place corn in the microwave and cook about 1-2 minutes per ear – depending on your microwave.

 

Tip #4 – Put foil on your grill racks.

This tip is only if you like keeping a clean grill, but hate scrubbing the racks.  You’ll still get good grill marks on your food, and you’ll have far less clean-up!

Tip #5 – Spray the foil with cooking spray

This obviously helps the food not stick.  Meat does tend to stick to the foil, so this just keeps it from making it difficult to flip the food over to grill the other side.

These tips make grilling out so much easier, and you just can’t get any better than a menu of

Barbecued chicken or ribs 
Baked potato  
Corn on the cob!!

What is your best tip for grilling out?
Have I used the word “grill” enough in this post?!! Ha!  We love it!!  So go and GRILL something!

With love from my country kitchen (and patio),

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

 

For the Love of the Best Cookie

How could you even have a bad day on an afternoon when you bite into a Snickerdoodle? The name alone makes me smile!  In case you’re somehow not sure what a Snickerdoodle is, it’s not a type of dog, rather it is a cookie drenched in a cinnamon/sugar bath and baked to a soft, sweet perfection!

I introduce you to The Snickerdoodle…

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It amazes me to find that some of my favorite recipes of all times have escaped being posted here on my blog!  I went to search for this family-favorite cookie recipe here in my recipe index and was amazed that it was absent!  In order to fix that, I baked up a batch of cookies, snapped away at pictures, and ate a couple cookies in the process, then froze the rest for upcoming company!  They’re safer in the freezer!

I love this recipe because it’s very quick to whip up, but the cookie isn’t like some mediocre recipe.  This is a Ten!  No kidding.  It makes 3.5 dozen normal size cookies and good luck at eating only one.  You might want to double the batch – which work just fine!  They do freeze well, if you don’t trust yourself with a whole pile of cinnamon/sugar heaven sitting under your nose!

Here’s the simple and wonderful recipe:

Snickerdoodles
Ingredients
1 cup shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbl. sugar
2 tsp. Cinnamon

Directions
Cream together shortening, sugar, and eggs.  Sift together and stir in flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt.  Shape dough into balls the size of walnuts.  Roll each in mixture of the sugar and cinnamon.  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 7-9 minutes at 375 degrees or until LIGHTLY browned.

I bake mine for exactly 7 minutes and then let them sit in the pan a few minutes to cool before putting them on the cooking rack.  They may seem a little underdone, but I think they’re best when they’re soft in the middle.

Do someone a sweet favor and bake up a batch to share!

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Just curious, what’s your favorite cookie?  

With love from my country kitchen,

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Creating A Cozy Summer Home

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Home is described as the sweetest place on earth, the place we hang our hats and our hearts, and the place that is like no other.  As a Christian homemaker, it’s my desire that my home would radiate the love of Christ; that others would feel His presence when they enter our doors.   Would that not be the ultimate of being an inviting home?  That happens when the people that live here know the Lord and fellowship daily with Him. We, the dwellers of this place, must be filled with His Spirit so that others can know His love, His peace and His joy.  We can open our doors and use our home to share that kind of love – what a privilege!

There are also ways that we can make our homes inviting, cozy, warm, restful and peaceful right now in these summer months.  We often only think of cozy-ing up our home during the cool months when the hearth is lit and the aroma of comfort foods are wafting in the air.  But summertime offers lots of ways to make our residence a cozy and inviting place.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Open the doors, curtains and shades to let the light in!  While there is beautiful sunshine outside, invite it inside!  Pull up the shades in the morning and leave them up.  The warmth of the sunshine will brighten every corner all day long.
  2. Rearrange the furniture so you can make the most of the sunlight and outdoor views.  I have a small table in my bedroom that I put near the fireplace in the winter.  When summer rolls around, I bring it close to the window so I can sit there and sip my morning coffee and have my Bible reading beside the view of the backyard.  I can see the sun hitting the hillside, watch the birds, and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors early in the day.
    I also recently turned the couch to face the living room windows for the same reason.  Think about how you might be able to enjoy the outside view from inside and arrange your furniture accordingly.
  3. Make livable space on your porch, deck  or backyard.  Patio lights, fire pit, candles, outdoor rugs, chairs, table and umbrella can create a whole other room for your family to enjoy while it’s warm.  There’s nothing like sitting outside after dark and star gazing while a fire is burning.  (Oh, and right now is a great time to buy outdoor furniture and accessories!  There are some great sales are going on!!)
    back porchIf you entertain outside, you don’t have to make sure the house is dusted!  Who doesn’t love to sit out at a fire pit, talk in hushed tones and roast marshmallows?!
  4. Burn floral or fruit fragrance candles. Beautiful scents are important when you walk inside, and so are the soft lights of flickering candles.  Put one on your entryway table to burn when your family is planned to come home, or when guests are arriving.
  5. Keep the entryway spotless.  Step outside your front door and LOOK at it.  Most people drive in the garage and never see what guests see at their front door.  Make sure the rug is fresh, the porch is swept, and the glass door is free from dirt and fingerprints.  Put a perky, colorful plant near the front entryway.  Hang a fresh wreath on the door.  Get a new garden flag (again, you might find these on sale right now!).
    The inside entry should be welcoming, too.  A soft light, good fragrance and a pretty, eye-catching flower arrangement, wall-hanging or picture that draws people in are good elements in the foyer.  I love Yankee Candle Plug-ins.  They last a LONG time and smell so good when you walk in the front door.
  6. Lighten up the linens.  Use light colors on the beds and table, if you can.  Remove any heavy throws from couches, chairs or beds, replacing with lightweight quilts in lighter colors.  I keep a white quilt on my outdoor swing for the cool nights when we’re outside.  It doesn’t look like a wool blanket would, but is inviting and comforting without being too hot.
  7. This is a good time of year to freshen the house with paint.  Add a light color that will be calming.  Paint the room you use the most.  Get a friend to help and the work will be done in half the time, and you’ll have a ton of fun while doing it!Image result for calm paint colors

Cozy up your home for summertime and then invite some people over to enjoy it with you!  The warm months won’t last forever, so enjoy these elements of coziness at home before it’s time to light the fireplace inside!

Next week I’m going to be showing you some recent updates I’ve made in my home.  I hope you’ll check back and see what I’ve done!

Now tell me, what makes your summer home inviting to others?

Stay refreshed at home,

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Make Time to Refresh Yourself

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After time, doors need oiling, shoes need polishing, cars need refueling, pantries need restocking and

women need refreshing!

You’ve probably already accomplished much this week – perhaps taking care of children, encouraging your husband during a difficult time, mentoring a younger woman, washing 100 loads of laundry (or it seemed like it!), cooking meals, encouraging a friend and dealing with your own needs – physical, emotional and spiritual.  That can be draining day after day.
This would be a good day to find time to refresh yourself, and there are lots of ways to do that.  It doesn’t have to take the whole day, but just a part of it, or part of the evening to do something that will get you ready to face tomorrow.
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 Is there something that you love to do, but you’ve stuffed it away, waiting for time to get to do it?  Is it a
  • scrapbook
  • a quilt
  • a painting
  • a garden
  • a plan to walk
  • a craft
  • a decorating idea you want to do in your home?How about just a simple thing like
  • polishing your nails
  • sitting out on the swing outside with a glass of tea?

Take time today to do it – or make plans for it in the next day or two. Women don’t often allow themselves the time to do something just for themselves, but taking the opportunity to do something you love will refresh your heart and help you be ready to give to your family again.  It will benefit you and your family!

What would you love to have time for?  Pray and ask the Lord how and when, and then do it!

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Blessings and Lessons From 35 Years of Marriage

Surprise post on this Saturday! Let me add this one from last year that includes other truths about marriage that we all need to be reminded of – myself included!

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It feels surreal that today my husband and I are staring our 35th anniversary in the face.  Of course all the math plays out perfectly – the ages of our girls, the number of years we have lived here and there, and our years in ministry.  It’s just that it seems to all have happened while we had our heads turned, if you know what I mean.  Nonetheless here we are, and to say that it’s a HUGE blessing would be an understatement.

When Andy on The Andy Griffith Show asks Floyd what he knows about love, Floyd retorts,

What do I know about love?!  You can’t cut hair for 30 years and not learn something!”

Well, neither can you be married for 35 years and not learn something!! As I pondered our years together, I’ve thought about what I’ve learned.   Here are some of my…

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Summer Fun Series (Day Three)

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Summer Help for Moms

When I went to Walmart this week it dawned on me very quickly that school is out for some children and will be coming for others in the near future. How did I know? Mothers in the aisle of the stores already had that pinched look on their faces. I could hear frustration in their voices as they repeated what they’d already said to their children more than once since arriving in the store. I heard –

“I don’t have money for that.” “I’ll buy you a little toy if you’re good.” “Get out of the middle of the aisle where people are trying to push their carts.” “You’re not thinking!”

For some moms summer break means having the children under foot for three months – and that is thought enough to curl their hair without the aid of any iron or rollers! Having a plan in place will help make the summer months one to enjoy instead of dread. Here are a ideas for summer activity that will give your children and you some special times together:

Coin Adventure

Turn an ordinary neighborhood walk into an extraordinary adventure. Pick a time when you have nice weather and a bit of time to spend. As you and your child step out the front door, flip a coin. If its tails turn left. If its heads turn right. Continue this at every corner. You never know where you’ll end up! This is a great opportunity to giggle with your kids and enjoy some chatting.

Be Prepared

Fill a large laundry basket with a good playground ball, a jump rope, and roller skates, hula hoop and some side walk chalk. Fun times are waiting with these items!

Slide Test Drive

This simple activity will keep a child busy for quite awhile! If you have a swing set with a slide in your back yard.Place a bucket or dish pan at the bottom of the slide. Have your child place a toy car at the top of the slide and see if it will roll into the bucket. Ask him /her which cars were successful, which one failed and why they think that was the case.

Scavenger Hunt

Have a hunt with your kids or help plan one for the neighborhood gang.
You’ll Need:
A list of common house hold objects that you know you have. Each team or child will receive a list and a bag for the items (make the lists before gathering the kids).The lists can contain anything: A dandelion, rock, Pill bug, worm, leaf, ball, roller blade…Pre-readers will need pictures. The object of the game is to be the first team to find and retrieve all of the objects on the list. Play inside or outdoors.

Refrigerator Box House

No tree for a tree house?Just go to your local appliance center and ask if they can spare a LARGE box. Let your children design there “fort” and you can cut the doors & windows with a utility knife.Paint and decorate the outside using poster paints and sponges or brushes. Fabric scraps and a stapler can be used for curtains. If kept under cover this retreat will last all summer. Don’t for get the “keep out” sign.

Tent Time

Kids love to play in their own tent space. You can do it without the hassle of pitching a tent.Use a plastic tarp over the clothesline with stakes at the corners. Cover the floor with a blanket or sheet.Provide a picnic lunch, board games and other activities for the little campers. Using this instead of a real tent will prevent damaging the lawn. Kids can use it all summer long for a relief from the sun.

Special Treats
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If there’s an ice cream truck that rolls through your neighborhood and causes whining among your brood because there’s not money for it, purchase some special treats ahead of time (they’re much cheaper at the store!). When the truck comes into your neighborhood pull out your affordable treats. You and your children could even make the treats – ice cream sandwiches with your homemade chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies would be super good!

Homemade Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches are a Summertime staple!:

Check out this web site that has some super-cute Disney-themed games, food ideas, and crafts.

Bible Time

Why not host a Bible club in your backyard? It doesn’t have to be a huge organized thing. Invite the neighborhood children (and their moms), have a Bible story, songs, maybe a craft and a little snack. Who knows what impact this could have in your neighborhood? While giving the children the Gospel, you’re also providing a break for those moms for an hour – they’re bound to appreciate that!

I hope you’ve enjoy these three days of Summer fun!

Come back tomorrow for Couples’ Summer Date Night ideas!

I LOVE summer! Hope yours is a great one!

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Summer Fun Series (Day Two)

Here we go – another list of fun things for children to enjoy during summer months:

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This clever treasure box, which is organized around the principle that anything goes, has ample room for plastic bags of beach sand, seed packets, subway tokens, maps, sea glass, photos, finger paintings, invitations or even a tiny book of best friends’ autographs.

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Start with a sturdy cardboard box (one with a lid), which your child can label with his name and the date. As he amasses odds and ends, he can tuck them inside or, if he prefers, glue some onto the outside of the box. To give the box a durable finish, brush on a coat of white glue thinned with water or cover with Con-Tact paper.

Make Homemade balls:

balls
CRAFT MATERIALS:
9 (11-inch) balloons (for 3 balls)
Funnel
2 1/4 cups of dried lentils
Scissors
Time needed: Under 1 Hour
1. Stretch the first balloon by inflating it halfway, holding it closed for about 30 seconds, and deflating it. 2. Place a funnel in the balloon’s neck and gradually pour in 3/4 cup of lentils, pushing them in as you go. The balloon should be firm but squeezable. 3. Snip off the balloon’s thick rubber lip. Cut the neck off a second balloon and gently stretch the opening. 4. Ease the second balloon over the filled balloon, tucking in the neck as you go. 5. Cut the neck off the third balloon, stretch the opening, and ease it over the other two. Repeat this process to make a set of three balls, or however many you’d like.
How about making some cute cupcakes on the day your grass gets cut? What a yummy reward!  Or make these for a great Father’s Day treat! This idea was on Family Fun web site.

lawn mower cupcake
RECIPE INGREDIENTS:
Chocolate-frosted cupcakes
Coconut, flaked
Green food coloring
Hershey’s Nuggets
M&M’s
Frosting
Black licorice laces
1. For each cupcake, mix a handful of flaked coconut with a few drops of green food coloring. Press a chocolate-frosted cupcake into the coconut to cover. 2. The mower is made with a dark chocolate Hershey’s Nuggets body, brown M&M’s wheels, and a red M&M’s engine, held in place with dabs of frosting. 3. Shape the handle from a piece of black licorice lace, then insert the ends into the cupcake.

Make a simple version of homemade ice cream –

What you’ll need:
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup milk or half & half
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons rock salt
1 pint-size plastic food storage bag (e.g., Ziploc)
1 gallon-size plastic food storage bag
Ice cubes

How to make it:
Fill the large bag half full of ice, and add the rock salt. Seal the bag.
Put milk, vanilla, and sugar into the small bag, and seal it.
Place the small bag inside the large one, and seal it again carefully.
Shake until the mixture is ice cream, which takes about 5 minutes.
Wipe off the top of the small bag, then open it carefully. Enjoy!

Tips:
A 1/2 cup milk will make about 1 scoop of ice cream, so double the recipe if you want more. But don’t increase the proportions more that that — a large amount might be too big for kids to pick-up because the ice itself is heavy.

Don’t forget some of the good ol‘ standby summer fun things, such as:

  • Hopscotch on the driveway
  • Hula hoops
  • Sprinkler or water hose jump rope
  • Cardboard boxes – find a refrigerator box and let the kids make a playhouse or puppet stage
  • Make Popsicles
  • Play hide and seek just as it’s getting dark. Use flashlights to tag!
  • Don’t forget the library. There are so many fun things to do there!

Enjoy…summer’s going to be gone before we know it and we’ll be pulling out the sweaters!

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