The perfect holiday breakfast dish: Karla’s French Toast Egg Nog Casserole

The Most Delicious Recipe Blog Hop!

This is a recipe blog hop! Go here to get the button and join us each week: The Most Delicious Recipe Blog Hop.

Then add your recipe post to mine with the linky codes at the end of this post.

Whether you’re a paleo, vegetarian, southern cook, or baker, you’re welcome to join me and post a weekly recipe!

Karla’s French Toast Egg Nog Casserole

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When I got the idea for this recipe, I was extremely excited to try it. I’m happy to report that it tasted just as delicious as I imagined. And it’s so easy. You mix it the night before and pop it in the oven when you wake up.

I used a basic french toast casserole recipe and instead of using cream or half and half and milk, I used egg nog. It was beyond amazing. I can’t wait to make it again for New Year’s Eve!

FrenchToastCasserole

Ingredients for casserole

1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces) — I used a week-old loaf I got for .60!

8 large eggs

3 cups of your favorite egg nog (no alcohol)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dash salt

Ingredients for Praline Topping

2 sticks of real butter — softened (set the sticks out overnight)

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Tear up the French Bread into pieces as big as you like — about 1 inches. Some people slice them. I don’t. Place the pieces in a buttered 9 X 13 baking pan or dish.

In another bowl combine the eggs, egg nog, sugar and salt and beat until well mixed. Pour mixture over the bread making sure all are covered evenly. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine ingredients for the Praline Topping, spread evenly over the bread, and bake for 40 minutes. You may want to add your praline topping about 15 minutes into cooking if you don’t like a crusty top. I happen to like the crusty top–it’s my favorite part.

You can serve it with syrup but there’s so much flavor, no one in my house wanted syrup with it!

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Emissary by Thomas Locke — 4 out of 5 stars

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I know you’re not suppose to judge a book by its cover, but really, what’s not to like about this gorgeous work of art? It’s the perfect marquee for this new fantasy series by Thomas Locke. It depicts the flavor and mood of this story perfectly.

I don’t read fantasy as a rule, but because it’s such a popular genre for the younger set, including Millennials, I wanted to read it as a way get to know why they love this type of story. Walk into any bookstore these days and the shelves overflow with novels featuring wizardry and witchcraft. These books appeal to those who cut their teeth on Harry Potter and fantasy role-playing and video games.  They crave more stories that take them into the land of fairy tales and magic.

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Map of The Realm

I am one of the few who hasn’t read Harry Potter due to my own personal convictions. And I will admit being wary of this book. However, I do believe Locke has tapped into a market that desires a less dark fantasy experience. There is no overt Christian message, but there is definitely a main character to admire and a quest to be fought for. The thing to remember when reading fiction, Dear Reader, is that it is Fantasy.

Locke himself stated on his blog that he wants to take his readers on a story journey similar to what he loved reading while growing up:

“During our formative years – up until around age 30 – we are reinforcing our world view when we read for entertainment. But much of the fantasy that’s being published today doesn’t offer that sense of courage and inspiration that used to be prevalent in fantasy and science fiction novels.

Of course, not all of the “classic” authors wrote uplifting work. Ray Bradbury is one example. But even Bradbury’s writing gave me a sense of mind-bending escape and the opportunity to dream and envision more than what was available in world around me.

The books I loved most offered hope for a better tomorrow. Hope for growing into someone who could have these sorts of adventures. I want to infuse that hopefulness into my characters, and not give in to the temptation of creating characters who are only bitter and cynical.

In Emissary, key themes include courage in the face of fear, travel to unknown destinations, and new personal avenues of growth and development. I’ve tried to bring each of these into a story structure that’s applicable to today’s culture.”

I was quite surprised how quickly I was drawn into the story. Usually I read historical or political suspense, but I found myself smiling and turning page after page, eager to learn what Hyam, the main character, would face next.

Since I cut my  own teeth on Catherine Marshall and Janette Oke novels (as well as classics such as Little Women and The Yearling), it was a stretch for me to keep track of the visible and invisible in this story. It was also a stretch to “believe” the fantasy (which is a very strange oxymoronic thing to experience and explain). But Locke does a brilliant job of clarifying and describing his made-up world. His writing is seamless, and I found myself actually lost in the story instead of paying attention to his craft. Only good writing can do that. Occasionally there was a word or two I’d need to Google, but not often, and I only Googled them because I’m the curious sort, and I don’t mind learning new turns of phrase and words. Again, had I cut my teeth on such books, perhaps I’d have known what they meant.

This story is about a young man named Hyam who is able to speak several languages. He has the gift of magic which is forbidden in the realm. As a young child he was trained by wizards at a Long Hall, a place which he hated.

Due to a series of unexpected events, he is called to turn away from everything he has ever known in order to save those who may not even have his best interest at heart.

I kept looking for an allegorical message since it is classified as Christian Fiction, and I didn’t really find a consistent one. However, the protagonist is noble, and the values are clearly upright. Loyalty, courage and honesty are visible in the protagonist’s imperfect character.
Here’s the trailer for the book:

For other personal reasons, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It’s not because it’s not beautifully written because it is. And if you like fantasy, and you’d like to find something uplifting and heroic to read without all the gory darkness, this book is definitely for you.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell in exchange for my honest review.

BirdbooksTweet this: Thomas Locke’s new book, Emissary, gets 4 out of 5 stars!

Listen


A to Z blog hop at Patterings.

Welcome to A to Z!

We’d love to have you join the fun, either blogging your way through the alphabet with us, or simply visiting. =) We dearly love visitors.

If you’re joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Since this is a blog hop, you can grab the code for the linky down there too. Find more info about the A to Z meme here.

Today’s Blog is brought to you by the letter “L.”

Listen.

A still, small voice longs to be heard.

Above the cacophony of clacking machines, credit card swipes, family spats.

Listen.

Can you hear it?

The whisper of Love: wooing, desiring, reaching, stretching through the noise.

Stop, dear friend, at this Christmas-tide and take time to listen for that voice of love.

It longs to hold you and speak your name.

That Voice, the One Whose birthday we celebrate, and yet, go about our duties like countless re-enactments of Martha, frantic about the business of the party.

But if it’s His party, shouldn’t He be the One Whom our attention is focused?

Stop. Put down the paper, the ribbons, the mixing spoon. Take time to Listen.

Love is calling.

Merry Christmas, Child of the Most High God.

You are Loved with mercy so rich you can’t comprehend it.

Bathe in that gift. Rejoice. Celebrate.

Give praise.

And Listen.



Easy-peasy fudge!

The Most Delicious Recipe Blog Hop!

This is a recipe blog hop! Go here to get the button and join us each week: The Most Delicious Recipe Blog Hop.

Then add your recipe post to mine with the linky codes at the end of this post.

Whether you’re a paleo, vegetarian, southern cook, or baker, you’re welcome to join me and post a weekly recipe!

fudge

As you may or may not know, I’d much rather be in my writing cave than working in the kitchen, but there’s something about the holidays that brings out my hidden inner chef. So many people are making goodies that the enthusiasm for culinary delights is contagious.

I love fudge. My grandmother was an excellent candy maker and her fudge was perfect and delicious. I always thought there was a secret formula, and there probably is, to making the best fudge. But when I found this easy recipe, I couldn’t wait to try and it share it! Even I can make fudge now–and without a candy thermometer!

Karla’s Easy Peasy Fudge

 Ingredients:

  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate in my recipe today)
  • 1 (14 oz.) can of sweetened condensed milk
  • Dash salt
  • 1/2 to 1 cups chopped nuts (I was out of nuts today)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

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Instructions:

The recipe I used today said to line a pan with foil, but I think you could probably use parchment paper, as well.

Also, did you know I am 53 years old and I just bought my first electric can opener in 2014? How did I live for so long without this wonderful device!

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Here are the rest of the instructions:

  • Combine chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk and salt in a 1-quart bowl.

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  • Cook on high (100% power) in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.

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  • Stir in vanilla and nuts

 

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  • Cook on high (100% power) in microwave for another 1 1/2 minutes (for a total of three minutes) and stir.

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  • Pour into pan and chill in refrigerator

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As you can see in the picture below, it sets up nicely and cuts easily into little squares.

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NOM! I’m so proud of myself for making fudge just like grandma used to make! Okay, maybe not exactly like she made, but I guarantee you that Grandma would have loved having a microwave!

fudge12I think this would be a great recipe to put in jars for fudge to heat up for ice cream, too.

I’m going to add pecans to my next batch.

What’s your favorite Christmas candy?

twitter-bird-in-a-santa-hatTweet this: Fudge recipe so easy even a cave girl can do it!

 

 

 

 


Low-Carb Banana Split Dessert

The Most Delicious Recipe Blog Hop!

This is a recipe blog hop! Go here to get the button and join us each week: The Most Delicious Recipe Blog Hop.

Then add your recipe post to mine with the linky codes at the end of this post.

Whether you’re a paleo, vegetarian, southern cook, or baker, you’re welcome to join me and post a weekly recipe!

I can hardly wait to make this delicious dessert for Christmas Eve! Everyone in our house (except for my Mother-In-Law who is a teeny tiny little thing) needs to watch their sugar intake. The best way for our family is to eat low-carb. Thankfully, almond flour is delicious and we all love cream cheese! If you love dessert as much as we do and are diabetic or counting carbs, you’re going to love this recipe!
Here’s a hint to make it even better: freeze it before serving. Oh. Nom!

 

Banana Split Dessert

lowcarbbananasplitpieIngredients:

3 Tbsp. butter (or coconut oil)
2 Tbsp. Splenda (or other no-calorie sweetener of your choice)
1 cup almond flour
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup Splenda (or other no-calorie sweetener of your choice)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 banana
1 cup heavy cream
1 small can chunk pineapple in juice (not syrup)–well drained
Sugar free chocolate syrup
Instructions:
1. Grease a 7 X 11 pan.
2. Melt 3 Tbsp. of butter and stir in the sweetener. Combine with 1 cup of almond flour. Spread crust into the greased pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes. Do not allow it to brown. Set aside to cool while you prepare the filling.
3. Mix 8 ounces of cream cheese with the sweetener, egg and vanilla. Spread over cooled crust.
4. Bake in a water bath (a larger pan filled half-way with water) for 35 minutes at 325 degrees. Do not allow it to brown on top.
6. Let cool. Top with slices of one banana.
7. Make the topping: whip 1 cup heavy cream until stiff. Add 2 tbsp. of Davinci Vanilla Syrup and whip a little more.
8. Spread half the topping over bananas.
9. Cut pineapple chunks into four pieces. place side by side on top of the whipped topping.
10. Spread remaining whipped topping over pineapple. Drizzle with sugar-free chocolate sauce and top with 12 maraschino cherries.
11. Cut into 12 pieces and enjoy!

Makes 12 servings.

250 calories per serving.

Approximately 5 carbs without the cherries, 7 with one cherry.

Serve frozen or partly frozen or not frozen at all (but it’s better at least partially frozen).

Let me know if you make this recipe and send me pictures!

twitter-bird-in-a-santa-hatTweet this: Low-carb banana split dessert! Indulge without the guilt!

 

 



Kris Kringle and Kittens


A to Z blog hop at Patterings.

Welcome to A to Z!

We’d love to have you join the fun, either blogging your way through the alphabet with us, or simply visiting. =) We dearly love visitors.

If you’re joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Since this is a blog hop, you can grab the code for the linky down there too. Find more info about the A to Z meme here.

This is our first Christmas with kittens.

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Spook imitating a lounge lizard. His twin sister looks exactly like him — only she’s smaller and naughtier.

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Hogging my lap so I won’t waste time writing on my laptop.

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Making themselves at home on my granddaughter, Maggie’s, sleeping bag.

Mr. Himself is not very happy about it. He’s worried about broken Christmas ornaments and decorations.

We’ve not put our tree up yet and I keep assuring my neurotic husband it will be fine. Don’t worry. Be happy! And then I sent him this video to cheer him up.

What do you think his reaction was?

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Tweet this: Was it right or wrong to send my husband this video?

 

 


Justice


A to Z blog hop at Patterings.

Welcome to A to Z!

We’d love to have you join the fun, either blogging your way through the alphabet with us, or simply visiting. =) We dearly love visitors.

If you’re joining in the meme, be sure to link up with us at the end of this post. Since this is a blog hop, you can grab the code for the linky down there too. Find more info about the A to Z meme here.

Today’s Blog is brought to you by the Letters I and J

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I missed the letter “I” last week, and since I’m a bit OCD, I have to include it before I can move on to the letter J. So, briefly, here is the letter “I”–for “Instamatic.” And below is an Instamatic photo of me in my wedding dress 32 years ago (my anniversary is December 3). This was taken by my childhood Sunday School teacher who loved to take photos and record me singing. This was in the days of innocence and ours was a unique father-daughter bond. I don’t think I can even describe it to you.

wedding7Me in 1982 a few days before my wedding

Did you know that Instamatics are making a come-back? It’s a new art form!

Now for the Letter J

J is for Justice

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I’ve been thinking a lot about this word, justice. People have been protesting in hopes of bringing it to pass. And it’s true that while we live on this earth, we are to seek justice and be proponents of it. God commands us to “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy” (Psalm 82:3).

Injustice anywhere is a threat to-2 (2)

But as long as justice is meted out by fallible people, there will be no true justice in this world. Where is the justice in children going hungry, being abused and neglected, or dying of cancer? What is just and fair about me going about my Christmas shopping and decorating while young children are beheaded in Iraq because they refuse to deny Christ?

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ISIS holding up their weapons as they pose next to the trademark black and white Islamist flag at an undisclosed location in Iraq’s Anbar province. (Photo: AFP-Youtube, Bing, free use image)

Life on this earth simply isn’t fair. My day to day life is better than many people’s, and countless others have it better than me. There is no equality while living on this side of heaven.

Which makes our need for true justice all the more obvious.

For we must all appear before the-4 (2)

People tend to look at Jesus as a sort of Santa Claus whom they pray to about all their wants and desires. I admit doing it myself because I believe that my Lord is interested in everything I’m fascinated with. He’s not surprised I like pretty things, and dream of a more user-friendly house. I talk to Him about it often. However, He is so much more than a Friend I can go to about my heart’s desires. 700 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah proclaimed:

And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord;

And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:

But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.” — Isaiah 11:2-5

He that is without sin among you, let (2)

There are no just judges or juries in this land. There never will be. Our souls yearn for justice because we long for a heavenly home. Our souls yearn for something “more” and I believe that’s because we yearn to be forever in the very presence of Justice Himself.

There is something inside of all of us that knows there will be a day of judgement when the wicked must pay. The thing many people don’t realize, however, is that all have sinned, are wicked, and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). They compare themselves with others instead of with the righteousness of God. Without the cleansing power of Christ, not one of us will be justified on the terrible day we stand before the Lord and account for our lives.

_If we say that we have no sin, we-1 (2)

But my Savior, Jesus Christ–He is my advocate and will tell the Father, “her sins are paid in full.” Only because He loved me enough to die for me. What kind of justice is that? It’s certainly not fair to God. It’s not fair at all.

But this is grace, my friend. Beautiful, boundless, amazing, undeserved grace.

I, for one, don’t want justice for my sins. I don’t want what’s coming to me.

And what blows my mind, and what I can’t get my mind around sometimes, is that He doesn’t want that for me, either.

 “And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him. For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee” (Isaiah 30:18 & 19).

flying_birdTweet this: As long as justice is meted out by fallible people, there will be no true justice in this world.

 

 

 

 



Recipe of the week: Melba’s Butternut Balls — a recipe from the 1970s

The Most Delicious Recipe Blog Hop!

This is a recipe blog hop! Go here to get the button and join us each week: The Most Delicious Recipe Blog Hop.

Then add your recipe post to mine with the linky codes at the end of this post.

Whether you’re a paleo, vegetarian, southern cook, or baker, you’re welcome to join me and post a weekly recipe!

This Week’s Recipe: Melba’s Butternut Balls

TeaCakesThese delectable, melt-in-your mouth cookies are also known in different varieties as Snowballs, Mexican Wedding cookies, Russian Tea Cakes, Christmas Butter Cookies, Rum Balls (without the rum), Almond Butter Balls (if you use almonds), Pecan Butter Balls (if you use pecans), Peppermint balls (if you use crushed up candy canes) and more.

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Whatever the name, they are easy to make, delicious and a joy to package up as gifts because they’re so pretty. They’re the perfect cookie to serve with coffee, hot cocoa or a steaming pot of tea.

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I learned how to make these cookies from a recipe in my childhood church’s Christmas recipe book entitled, Christmas Family Favorites. I’m not sure how I ended up still having it, but I think the copy I have was my grandmother’s because I don’t think my Mom would have given me hers. However I acquired it, I’m thrilled to still have it more than 40 years later! (I’m pretty sure it was published sometime in the 70s.) As you can see, it is well-worn and stained. Probably from when I used it as a kid!

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It was a primitive assemblage, held together with two small plastic rings. But it’s chock-full of my favorite childhood recipes. I very well may have learned to bake out of this little booklet.

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Each recipe is neatly typed and signed by the person who submitted it. I enjoy flipping through the names and remembering the lovely women of the church who mentored me when I was young. In future posts I’ll share several more of my top favorite recipes from the book. As a young baker, I made them over and over again.

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And now, the recipe for:

“Melba’s Butternut Balls”

Ingredients:

1 cup soft butter

1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar

2 cups sifted flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup finely chopped nuts

Directions:

Cream butter and sugar in medium mixing bowl, add salt, vanilla, flour and nuts, mixing well. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 minutes. Roll in 1/4 cup confectioners sugar while warm. Cool, then roll again.

Variations: add different types of nuts for different flavors. You may also add crushed candy canes for a delicious, Christmassy, peppermint flavor.

I usually double the recipe because the cookies are small and I like to give full bags or tins of them as gifts.

You can find a paleo/low-carb version of this recipe from my favorite no-wheat flour source here: Mexican Wedding Cookies

Have you ever made these before? What’s your variation? Have you ever eaten them? What does your family call them?

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Tweet this: What’s your favorite Christmas cookie?



 

Rejected best-sellers

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Today I’m the blogger over at Hoosier Ink, so please visit and leave me a shout out!

To go along with that post, If You Never Try You’ll Never Know, I thought I’d highlight a few best-sellers that started out as rejects. Hopefully this will encourage you to keep writing no matter the rejection.

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anne

aaseagull

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aatwi

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DaVinciCode

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Of course, there are many others I could list, but I’m busy writing the next best-seller. (Hey, you gotta have dreams!)

What’s a favorite book of yours that started out as a reject?

BirdbooksTweet this: 12 best-selling books that started out as rejects!