Welcome back! Last week was incredibly busy, and I’ve got so much to share!
I recently got an e-mail from Starbucks letting me know that from now until the 22nd, you can get 2 petite treats for just $2. If you’re planning a trip anyway, it seems like a nice treat.
I also recently heard that next week on tax day (a.k.a 4/17), Sonic will be offering happy hour prices all day. I’m always up for a Route 44 Diet Coke, so I might find an excuse to stop by.
It seems that lots of people are offering deals lately. If you get e-mails from Redbox, you might want to check your inbox (or maybe your spam folder) to see if you got an invitation to take a survey. If you take it (it’s about 5 minutes or so), they’ll give you 3 codes for free DVD rentals. I took the survey yesterday and my codes are good until the end of the month.
If you go over here, you can fill out and print a form to bring to a participating Origins store on 4/22 with any empty skin care bottle and they’ll give you a full-sized bottle of one of their cleansers.
Currently Groupon is offering a deal where you pay $15 for $30 worth of merchandise at Claires.com. Claire’s and it’s sister company Icing offer affordable jewelry and accessories. This Groupon offer appears to available for use on clearance items, although it can’t be used toward shipping. I’ve often found fun jewelry, makeup, and hair accessories there. If you’ve got a young girl’s birthday coming up, this might be a way to find a nice present or two for an affordable price.
Armani is offering another free sample of their Code Sport fragrance (which smells SO wonderful on my hubby). You just go here, click on the “Free Sample” tab on the right of the page, and fill out a form to get it.
Part of what made last week so busy was that my hubby and I were spending lots of time with our friends. Last Thursday, a friend came over and spend most of the day with me. We had talked about just whipping something up from what I had, but instead she ended up bringing over a delicious spaghetti casserole. Of course, I asked for the recipe, and so that’s what we’re having for dinner this week. Since it’s so easy and tasty, I definitely want to share it with you. Since I have no idea where she got it from, I’m posting the recipe. If you happen to know more about its origins, I’d love to learn more about it.
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 diced green bell pepper
1/2 chopped green onion
1 lb. spaghetti
1 10 oz. can cream of chicken soup
1 small (I can’t remember if these are 6 or 8 oz.) can of tomato sauce
1 c. milk
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 c. shredded cheddar
1. Brown the meat in a pan with the onion and green pepper. At the same time, cook the pasta according to the package directions.
2. In a 9×13 in. pan, whisk together the soup, tomato sauce, milk, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. When they’re done cooking and drained, add the meat mixture and the pasta. Mix everything together, top with the cheese, and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 min.
This week’s movie selection was the hilarious Because I Said So. (Trailer here.) In this movie, Daphne (Diane Keaton) is a mother who’s trying to fix up her youngest daughter, Milly (Mandy Moore) with a suitable mate. After taking out a personal ad for her daughter, she finds the guy that she believes could be the one. To Daphne’s chagrin, a musician who witnessed her matchmaking efforts is also interested. As Milly dates both men she runs into numerous complications including a continuing strain on the relationship with her mother. Though there are a couple more adult scenes that I wish weren’t in the movie, I keep coming back because I love the mother/daughter/sister relationship that’s portrayed throughout. Talking purely about the settings of the movie, I really enjoy the soundtrack, Mandy Moore’s great style, all the yummy looking food (Daphne and Milly both cater), and the beautifully decorated set (Daphne’s garden, Milly’s apartment, and the bakery). There are some great scenes throughout especially the Korean massage scene, the family sing-along, rearranging the furniture, how Daphne and Milly mirror each other’s actions, and the scene with Milly and her sister’s patient, Stuart. Here are some of my favorite lines: “I’m not sad sobbing. I promise, Mom. I’m fine.”, “If we push this 5 in. to the left, I swear it’ll change your life.”, and “And once I saw you were a woman with profound static cling, I knew I wanted to be that force around you.”
Since Daphne and Milly both bake a lot throughout the movie, I knew that I wanted to do a larger dessert. Happily, I also had the excuse that we were celebrating my husband’s birthday. When I asked him what he wanted for dessert, he came up with the idea of a chocolate chip cookie dough cake. I remembered a pin that I’d seen that seemed like it would be perfect. It was for a Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake from Martha Stewart. Now, when I was planning to make this, the icebox cake link I had didn’t include a link for the chocolate chip cookies they used. I looked around and found this recipe for crispy chocolate chip cookies. I made 3 batches, but they ended up making almost 12 dozen cookies instead of the 9 dozen it says it’ll make. Then I could only fit 8 cookies per layer, not 11. Needless to say we’ve got a large cake and several dozen leftover cookies; not that my hubby minds. The cookies are good by themselves, but they’re exceptional in the cake, which really does taste like cookie dough. It was definitely a hit, and I got the idea from another friend that he may be requesting a variation next month for his birthday.
Thin and Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Martha Stewart)
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 c. softened butter
1 1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. In another bowl, combine the butter and sugars; beat on medium til light an fluffy. Reduce the speed to low and add in the salt, 1/4 c. water, vanilla, and eggs. Beat til well mixed, about 1 minute. Add the flour mix and mix til just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
2. Drop the dough by heaping tablespoons 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake til the cookies are golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool on the pan for 1-2 minutes. Then cool completely on a wire rack.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Icebox Cake (Also from Martha Stewart)
4 c. heavy cream (cold)
8 oz. mascarpone (I substituted cream cheese with excellent results.)
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
8 dozen 2 1/4 inch crisp chocolate chip cookies
1. In a chilled metal bowl, whisk together 3 c. cream and mascarpone til they form soft peaks. Add the sugar and vanilla and whisk til medium-soft peaks form. Chill the cream mix til needed.
2. On your cake stand, arrange 9 cookies in a circle and put 2 in the middle. Carefully spread 1 c. of the cream mix evenly over the cookies, leaving a slight border around the outside edge. Repeat this process to form 7 more layers, ending with cookies. Refrigerate the cake overnight, lightly draped with plastic.
3. Whisk the remaining 1 c. cream til soft peaks form. Spread this over the top of the cake just before serving. Garnish with chocolate shavings.
Now, that’s usually the last section of the post, but I’ve read something that I wanted to share a few quotes from. It’s the book Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot which tells the story of the 5 brave missionaries who were martyred while trying to reach the Auca Indians in Ecuador.
In a letter to a friend, one of the missionaries, Ed McCully, wrote: “I have one desire now–to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it. Maybe He’ll send me someplace where the name of Jesus Christ is unknown. Jim, I’m taking the Lord at His word, and I’m trusting Him to prove His Word. It’s kind of like putting all your eggs in one basket, but we’ve already put our trust in Him for salvation, so why not do it as far as our life is concerned? If there’s nothing to this business of eternal life we might as well lose everything in one crack and throw our present life away with the life hereafter. But if there is something to it, then everything else the Lord says must hold true likewise.”
One day while preaching, Ed used the law to illustrate a Biblical truth. “But you say, God is a God of love. He will not punish anyone eternally. It is true that He is a God of love. And His condemnation does not in any way alter the fact. God is not willing that you or I experience the punishment we justly deserve. Therefore He offers us an escape, if we choose to accept it. At the price of His only begotten Son, God provided pardon.”
One of the other missionaries, Nate Saint, spoke about the cost of living for Christ. “During the last war we were taught to recognize that, in order to obtain our objective, we had to be willing to be expendable.… This very afternoon thousands of soldiers are known by their serial numbers as men who are expendable….We know there is only one answer to our country’s demand that we share in the price of freedom. Yet, when the Lord Jesus asks us to pay the price for world evangelization, we often answer without a word. We cannot go. We say it costs too much. God Himself laid down the law when He built the universe. He knew when He made it what the price was going to be. God didn’t hold back His only Son, but gave Him up to pay the price for our failure and sin.”
Throughout the book, we see through these men’s letters and journals that they were completely willing to pay any price to take the Gospel to those who had never heard the name of Jesus. One of the most well-known quotes comes from the author’s husband, Jim Elliot, and it neatly sums up what should be the motto of every Christian: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”