Gluten Free Friday – Peanut Butter Macaroons

This recipe came out of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. It was one of their award winners from a spring or summer issue of 2008. They were gluten free to begin with – not purposefully – just by nature of being macaroons, and I’ve only changed a couple of things. The kids love these as do their friends!

Peanut Butter Macaroons

2 egg whites
1/8 cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
2 cups chocolate-flavored crisp rice cereal (Cocoa Pebbles or Koala Crunch)
1/3 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add sugar gradually until stiff peaks form. Fold in peanut butter, and then cereal. Drop batter by rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheet. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts if desired. Bake for 10 minutes at 300*. Cool slightly and transfer to wire rack; cool completely.

How He speaks…..

Things are still a little rough here. I know I mentioned it in a semi-humorous way a few posts back – trying to be light-hearted about it, but the truth is I am still pretty low and only slowly recovering from a despair to which I’ve never dropped before. And it is from so many places – such a combination of factors – that it is difficult to explain just what brought me here.

…we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life…
2 Corinthians 1:8

And yet it is here that I have experienced the love, grace, comfort, shepherding, and gentle voice of the Lord more than ever before.

Robert has given me time in the morning to stay in bed with a cup of hot tea, read my Bible, pray, and journal. (He’s been truly amazing, and has had his own renewal of heart recently.Mine seems to be a bit slower in coming around.) And every time I open the Word, the promises of restored hope and revival of spirit are right there…..

You who have shown me many troubles and distresses, will revive me again, and will bring me up from the depths of the earth.
Psalm 71:20

He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me.
Psalm 55:18

We went through fire and through water; yet You did bring us to a place of abundance.
Psalm 66:12

The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst. I, the Lord, will answer them Myself; as the God of Israel I will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land fountains of water.
Isaiah 41:18

Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.
John 4:14

Two weeks ago, I took a whole day off. Went to one of my favorite New England locations – West Hartford, CT – cranking Sandra McCracken music for the entire one-hour drive. Went to the Whole Foods there, grabbed some lunch to go, and headed to the Barnes and Noble to eat, read, drink coffee, journal, and look over my Five Aspects of Woman study for my small group that night. I say “look over” because I have done this study so many times that all I usually need to do is refresh my memory by skimming the lesson. The Lord had different plans. And evidently they had been arranged for far in advance.

I opened the notebook to the “Lifegiver-Redeemed” lesson only to discover that I had never filled in the blanks for this particular lesson, in this particular edition! So my time in the cafe turned into an hour and a half of reading the lesson, looking up assigned verses and stories, and answering application questions so as to be prepared to lead the discussion. You know, so the other young women in my group would hear the message and be impacted by its powerful truths.

The Lifegiver Aspect is all about the unique design of femininity that makes women not only able to give physical life through childbearing, but also enables her to nurture and pour herself out for the sake of others in many different ways. It is this very aspect of my life that has brought me low. Lifegiving has been the most rewarding and yet the most draining part of my life. On my Facebook profile, “Marriage, Motherhood, and Ministry” are what I listed as my “activities.” Nothing but lifegiving opportunities there.

In Scripture, there is a recurring theme surrounding women at wells. This is partly because getting daily water was woman’s work in those times. Water is also a symbol of life. Hagar was provided two different wells in Genesis when she was destitute, Zipporah met Moses at her well, Rebekah watered a servant and his camels at a well and also ended up with a husband. In Proverbs, woman is described as a fountain of lifegiving springs to her husband. And of course, Jesus and the woman at the well in John 4 – she comes for daily water; he gives her an internal and everlasting source of life – Himself. They are all lifegivers, and they are all in need of or receive renewed life themselves.

These were the stories I was reading as I prepared for my lesson, and these were the stories that the Lord was using to speak His promises of renewal to me yet again. I don’t think it was any coincidence that the lesson had somehow gone undone until that day. And the Lord knew way back, when I had the opportunity to skip it for some reason, that now was the time I would need it most. Yes, it was for the other women, but it was more so for me. Here is how the author of the study, Barbara Mouser, comments on this idea of renewal…

“The means of lifegiving is renewal. Belief in the importance of lifegiving is not the problem; finding the strength to do it is. But God’s gift of renewal means it does not all depend upon our strength. When we are out of strength, He picks us up again with gifts of power and life we knew not of.”

As I’ve mentioned before, after studying each aspect in its created, fallen, and redeemed state, each woman is supposed to do something creative to share with the group demonstrating what she learned, or what the aspect meant to her. As I prayed about what my “Lifegiver- Life Lesson” would be this time, I kept thinking about water and wells. I remembered that when we returned home from Texas in January our tap water was a bit brownish and I didn’t want to drink it. Robert picked up a case of Poland Springs water bottles for me one day. The tap water eventually returned to a normal color, but I was really enjoying the taste of the bottled water – especially after a run – so Robert continued to replenish my stock. The day of the “life lesson” presentation, Robert and I were running together, and I heard a big truck coming up behind us. I still had not decided on what to present to the group, but as I moved to the curb and saw the huge green Poland Springs truck drive slowly by, I knew what I would do.

The picture above shows the small gift I was able to give to each of the girls in my group – a Poland Springs water bottle with the promises of restoration and renewal that I had been discovering attached. Water for the body, water for the soul.

And in the giving of that gift, I realized another provision of the Lord for the restoration of my heart….my husband. The man who brings case after case of Poland Springs water bottles home so that my supply doesn’t run out. Water that I don’t technically need, but that he desires to give me, because it brings a little bit of comfort and refreshment to my day. And this is only one of many ways he has served and sought to encourage me recently.

Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word….
Ephesians 5:25,26

And what did Robert’s sermon text just happen to be for this past Sunday? John Chapter 4 – The Woman at the Well. Another coincidence? Not a chance. It’s how He speaks, and I’m trying to hear and receive.

Drinking from the sacrifice of my Lord and my husband.

Restoration will come. I am so blessed.

…indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead….He on whom we have set our hope.
2 Corinthians 1:9,10

When in Texas……

… as the Texans do!
Robert and I recently returned from yet another trip to Texas – my fifth trip in 12 months – and we definitely returned to our roots in dramatic way on this particular trip! Robert performed the wedding ceremony of his second cousin, Jason on Valentine’s Day, outdoors on the Eberly Ranch in Chappell Hill, TX.
Jason and his dad are big hunters as are many male Texans, and the groom’s cake was a true reflection of this passion….deer, deer blinds, deer feeders, trucks, guns, bows – all surrounded by deer antlers and photos of years of hunting trips!

Robert and I thoroughly enjoyed the reception – an amazing barbecue buffet, live country music, and dancing. And yes, we did do the two-step for most of the evening and might have even sipped on a salt rimmed glass of something yummy. Shhhhhh…..

The following day we had the opportunity to gather with more extended family in Sealy, TX for lunch. Robert’s grandpa Doug turns 90 next month and still runs his own nearby ranch nearly single-handedly. It was wonderful to see he and grandma Reba as well as Great Aunt Anna, Robert’s parents, and sister Karen with her family.
And if that were not enough Texas culture for one trip, I happened to remember that the rodeo was going on in San Antonio. Going to the rodeo with my dad is one of my fondest memories from my Texas childhood – oddly enough. My dad has been a sales rep for Resistol-Stetson for about 30 years, and in the past, attendance at the rodeo was just a part of his job. Not so much anymore, but he was glad to go with us. Here we are in front of the poultry barn! It was confirmed that we were no longer in New England when at the opening of the rodeo competition much ado was made about the American Flag…entourage of decorated horses, spotlight, soloist…and a special prayer was prayed by the rodeo announcer which he described as a “special rodeo tradition” while the 16,000 in attendance clapped and cheered!
The rodeo was held at the AT&T Center which is also where the San Antonio Spurs play their home games. (You know, kind of like the Ponca City, OK rodeo, Tamyra! 😉 ) I don’t know if the restroom signs there always have cowboy-hat-wearing-icons, or if this was special rodeo decor, but it tickled me, so I had to get this picture! We also lucked out by getting to see Brooks & Dunn as the concert for the evening….of the “boot scootin’ boogie” fame.

I’ll leave you with a few lyrics from these cowboy philosophers……

Her daddy gave her, her first pony
Then taught her to ride
She climbed high in that saddle- Fell I don’t know how many times
Taught her a lesson that she learned – Maybe a little too well
Cowgirls don’t cry- Ride, baby, ride
lessons in life are going to show you in time
soon enough your gonna know why
it’s gonna hurt every now and then
if you fall get back on again
Cowgirls don’t cry

or how about these words of wisdom …..

You can buy you a brand new truck
Chrome it all out, jack it way up
You can build you a house up high on a hill
With a pool and a pond and a view to kill
You can make all the money in sight
But you aint livin the good life

Til you put a girl in it
You aint got nothin
What’s it all worth
Without a little lovin
Put a girl in it
Some huggin and some kissin
If you’re world’s got somethin missin
Just put a girl in it

These are my roots, folks! Yee Haw, Texas!

Gluten Free Friday – Baked Potato Soup

I tend to make this soup when I won’t be eating with the family since it contains dairy products and more dairy products. I am incorporating a bit more dairy into my diet, but this soup scares me! My kids LOVE it though. I made a batch and froze it when we went on our trip to Switzerland, and again last weekend since Robert and I had to make another trip to Texas. I also made a batch of gluten free corn muffins to freeze and the kids and sitters were able to eat it for a dinner and a lunch the next day! The lactose intolerant and fat/calorie conscious will want to click on outta here this time!

Baked Potato Soup

6 baking potatoes
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup GF flour mix
1 Tbsp corn starch
8 cups milk
water or chicken broth to thin soup
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
12 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream

Bake potatoes at 400* for 1 hour. Cool slightly and scoop out pulp and set aside. (Leave some skins on if desired.) Melt butter in soup pot; add flour and cornstarch and stir until smooth. Gradually add milk and stir constantly over medium heat until thickened. Add potato, bacon, cheese, salt and pepper. Use a hand mixer to incorporate potato smoothly. Add broth, water, or more milk to thin soup if needed. Stir in sour cream. Garnish with bacon, more cheese, or green onions if you like. Makes about 16 cups.

Gluten Free Friday – Energy Bars

I had to make a quick snack for the kids to take to their Friday homeschool ice-skating time and remembered reading a recipe for energy bars on my friend Megan’s wonderful blog – Going Green in a Pink World. I didn’t have all the ingredients she listed so just altered it a bit. They were a big hit, and they are full of nutrition and filling protein. Here’s my adaptation, and you can find the original here.

Energy Bars

2 cups roasted unsalted almonds
2/3 cup peanut butter (or almond butter)
1/2 cup flax meal
2/3 cup GF rice squares cereal (Rice Chex)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp vanilla

1 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Pulse almonds in food processor for 10-20 seconds. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until a thick coarse paste forms. Spread in a greased 8 inch square baking pan and refrigerate for 1 hour. While bars harden, melt chocolate together in saucepan on low heat until melted. Cool slightly and spread in a thin layer over bars. Refrigerate for 30 more minutes. Cut into small bars and serve. (I got 15 bars.) Keep bars in frig. ( To make this “quick” I used the freezer – but the chocolate was difficult to cut through as a result!)

**Edit – The peanut butter I used was the natural, unsweetened, no hydrogenated oil kind. And I did add about 1/4 cup brown sugar to the mix. You could use more honey or maple syrup to make these sweeter as well. The chocolate on top adds to the sweetness, though!