Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Thought On Books......

"Be careful what books you read,
for as water tastes of the soil
it runs through,
So does the soul tastes of the authors
that a man reads."
                                                                            ~ John Trapp
                                                                                  English Puritan

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Farmhouse Chicken Primavera & Mountain Rose Herb Giveaway!!

As the days become more crisp and trees garner their golden and russet attire, I find myself looking for cozy and delicious recipes to feed my family.  It almost is instinctual, the desire to fill my kitchen with the aroma of something from my farmgirl heritage: Chicken & vegetables. 
Several months ago, the gracious Mountain Rose Herb company had asked me if I was interested in reviewing some of their Epicurean Organics products.  Throughout the summer, I have written about our family's experience with their wonderful products and held some giveaways. Now, among the backdrop of the golden splendor outside, we embark on our final epicurean adventure: organic Lemon Pepper.
Farmhouse Chicken Primavera

  • 4 Tbsp. Lemon Pepper        
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 8 oz. frozen mixed spring vegetable medley
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil 
1. Place chicken breasts and vegetable medley in 2 separate bowls. Toss each with olive oil and 1 Tbsp. Lemon Pepper Seasoning and a little flour.

2. Lay chicken on a 9 x 9 inch roasting pan. Place vegetables in an ovenproof casserole dish. 

3. Place both in 375°F preheated oven and cook 30 - 45 minutes, turning each after 10 minutes. 

4. Serve by spooning vegetables over chicken breasts on each plate. Enjoy!

Mountain Rose Herb's Epicurean Organic's Lemon Pepper is simplying delicious.  It is a blend of Sea Salt, Onion, Lemon Peel & Black Pepper.  Certified Organic, Kosher, Non-GMO, Irradiation Free and Chemical Free ( I can bake/cook guilt free...)  Just the perfect blend of each spice, to make a unique and delicious medley. Citrus & Pepper.


Enjoy this warm & delicious meal outside if possible, to soak in all the beauty of this glorious season!
Now for the giveaway!  All you need to do to enter, is leave me a comment or e-mail me: with what you love about Autumn.  I enjoy hearing your ideas!!  I will choose a winner on October 1st.

May you have a very blessed Autumn. 


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Autumn Spiced Cider

For the last several years, as an autumn tradition, I have enjoyed reading Susan Branch's "Autumn: From the Heart of the Home" book.  It is filled with wonderful recipes, personal stories, beautiful watercolors and seasonal decorating ideas.  I thought I would share a recipe from this delightful book.
May you enjoy a sumptuous taste of autumn!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cultivating Beauty

As the final days of summer began to draw to a close, I found myself contemplating the last of our "summer list" and seeing what our family could enjoy one last time. Maybe it is my awareness of the seasons changing, my oldest daughter beginning to drive or my youngest losing her first tooth.  Whatever the catalyst, I felt an increasing awareness of the fleeting days, the mantle I wear as a mother to create special moments.  To cultivate beauty for my family.

On a day that no one had violin lessons, homeschool co-op speech class, laundry or grocery shopping. I decided to suprise my children with a picnic in the mountains.  We packed a tablecloth, dinner plates and simple, delicious food.   Off the the mountains we headed.  Windows rolled down, children singing, my heart dancing. 

This past Saturday morning, my daughters and I headed down to the "Old Town" part of where we live.  Lots of wonderful little shops and outdoor cafes.  Eclectic old buildings, art galleries and a bustling Farmer's Market. We walked down the old, uneven sidewalk and visited a French Bakery. Displayed under glass where elegant pastries; buttery crossiants, raspberry Beignets snow-dusted with powdered sugar , multi-colored macaroons. French words spilling out from behind enclosed kitchen. 

As I glanced over at each of my little (and not so little) daughters, powder-sugar and cream on their faces, I memorized this moment, their first encounter with the delicacies of France.  Aware that none of this would have been had I not cultivated the time, saved money & made the effort on this crisp, beautiful September morning.

Life and all that is required of us as wives and mothers can be draining at times.  I have found how easy it is just to be in survival mode, making sure the pantry & fridge are stocked, meals planned, clothes and children washed.  School work and  music lessons. The maintance of a family can be so overwhelming.  Saying, "Later" or "Not today" is incredibly easy. Yet, I want more than this for myself and my family. I want us to thrive. 

     Most days, I choose small things within our home to cultivate an atmosphere of beauty and celebrate the ordinary days.  I get up before my family, simmer cinnamon on the stove or light a scented candle.  I turn on beautiful music to play softly in the background,  stacking interesting books around the coffee table or side tables and lay cozy blankets within reach.  I try to hang interesting & beautiful artwork and display little vignettes of treasures found on nature walks.  Wholesome snacks and meals creatively designed.  Candlelight at mealtime. Fresh flowers from the garden in vases scatttered through the home.  Directing our eyes to the Creator of all beauty.

I recently read this and found it articulated my desire so well:
       "One of the roles God wants me to play in my children’s lives is a conductor of joy, happiness, and celebration. After all, God designed our need for these things into our very hearts. We were made to enjoy life and our Creator, and we were meant to choose to live in His beauty and provision.
This doesn’t mean I won’t have difficulties or times of depression. But I do have choices I can make as a mom that will determine the environment in my home.

When I choose to notice, every day, the beauty of my children instead of the duties my children bring my way, I am worshiping God.

When I choose to notice the gorgeous sunsets and the spring flowers in the midst of busy days, I am teaching my children to dance, so to speak, through their days.

When I choose to believe in the goodness of God and verbalize my love for Him, and make an effort to provide delightful food, thoughtful cards, and moments of fun, I am showing my children a God they will be willing to serve– a God who delights in filling their deep desires for intimacy, happiness, purpose, and beauty.”

                                                 ~ from The Mom Walk by Sally Clarkson

"The homeliest tasks get beautiful
if loving hands do them."
Louisa May Alcott
Embracing His Beauty,

Monday, August 27, 2012

Compote de pommes (French Applesauce)

Kristine Woolf Portraits

With the abundance of apples hanging from our apple tree, our family has been anxiously harvesting and savoring this Eden fruit.  I wanted to share with you a delicious recipe we recently enjoyed: Compote de pommes (French Applesauce).

It's suprising how popular this is in France. It's one of the first foods babies get to eat, but it's also a household standby there; a small bowlful topped with a little creme fraiche or mixed with yogurt makes a dessert, as does a few spoonfuls savored with a couple of elegant cookies. 

Compote de pommes can be as simple as cooking cut-up apples with a little water (to keep them from scorching) until they're soft enough to mash with a spoon or as sophisticated as cooking them until they're dark and carmelish (halfway between applesauce & apple butter), then mixing them with salted butter, to make a treat that's a specialty of both Normandy (which is just about synonymous with apples) and Brittany (where salted butter reigns).

If you decide to make the darker compote, you can double the recipe- you'll be cooking the apples for a long time (getting the texture you want can take over 30 minutes), so you might want to maximize your effort by doubling.

2 pounds (6 medium) apples, preferably red apples like Empire, Cortland or McIntosh
About 1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 Tablespoon organic sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons salted butter, for thicker compote (optional)

Peel & core the apples.  Cut the fruit into chunks and toss them into a medium saucepan- one with a heavy bottom works best here.

Stir in 1/4 cup of water and brown sugar & put the pan over medium-low heat.  Cook, stirring frequently- stay close, because the juices can bubble up- until the apples are soft enough to be crushed with the back of a spoon.  If the pan looks too dry, add a little more water as you cook & stir.  Count on about 15-20 minutes to get to the mashable stage.

If you want regular compote de pommes, remove the pan from the heat and run the compote through a food mill.  If you're without a mill, push it through a strainer- or don't: chunky applesauce is great.  Should the applesauce seem too thin for you, pour it back into the pan and cook, stiring constantly, for a few minutes, until the sauce is thick enough to mound on a spoon.

Scoop applesauce into a bowl.  If you're making the regular compote, taste  it now and if you 'd like it sweeter, add some of the sugar.  Now is also the time to add the vanilla, if you want it.

If you want to cook the compote down so that it's thicker and jammier, it's best to strain it first- but don't add the sugar or vanilla (yet).  Return the compote to the saucepan, put the pan over the lowest possible heat, and cook, stiring and scraping the bottom of the pan often, until you have a thick, spreadable mixture. (This can take more than 30 minutes for a single recipe and more than an hour if you've doubled it, so be patient it's worth it!) Let cool slightly, taste for sweetness.  Usually cooked down like this, it will probably be sweet enough.  Add the vanilla, if you. like.  Stir in the butter if you are using it. Whichever compote you've made, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface & chill.

               from:  "Around My French Table" by Dorie Greenspan

Bon appettit!  May you and your family slowly savor the delicious fragrance and flavors of Autumn.

In Wonder at His Beautiful World,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mountain Rose Herbs Giveaway!

From My Casa to Yours......

Earlier this summer, Mountain Rose Herbs were incredibly gracious in offering my family & I the opportunity to try some of their scrumptous products from their Epicurean Organics line and share our experience.

It has been an honor and lots of fun to gather my children in the kitchen to experiment with recipes including the seasonings & oils offered by Mountains Rose Herbs.  This week, I would like to share our experience with the Epicurean Organic's : Mexican Seasoning!

The Mexican Seasoning is a wonderful blend of organic Cilantro, Onion, Red Pepper & other organic herbs & spices.

Our family loves Mexican food and choosing a recipe (for we love so many) was a challenge but finally decided on the beloved, Tamale Pie.

Tamale Pie

1 lb. ground beef
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chili's
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 cup chunky salsa
1/2 c. sliced black olives (drained)
2 teaspoons Mexican Seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1 c. shredded Mexican cheese blend

Corn Bread batter:
1 c. flour
1 c. cornmeal
2-4 Tablespoons organic sugar or honey
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
1 C. milk
1/4 oil (we use coconut)

Preheat oven 350 degrees.

In a large pot, cook & stir ground beef  till done & drain off fat.  Stir in tomatoes, salsa, green chilies, salt, mexican seasoning & olives until thoroughly combined.  Spread mixture into dish (deep dish pie pan, cast-iron skillet or rectangular casserole glass dish.

Make corn bread batter and cover over top of meat mixture.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until bubbly & corn bread is lightly golden.
Top with cheese & bake another 5 minutes or so (until cheese melts).

Delicioso!!  We really noticed the difference the seasoning added, as it seemed to create a depth & complete the mexican flavors in the pie that we had not previously experienced; when we used just a dash of chili pepper here and cumin there.

Mountain Rose Herbs Mexican Seasoning Giveaway!!

Now it's your turn to enter my giveaway for a free bottle of Mexican Seasoning from Mountain Rose Herb's Epicurean line.  All you have to do is leave a comment or e-mail me before Aug. 25th for your chance to win!

Blessings from my casa to yours,


Sunday, August 12, 2012


                            Ideas For A Warmhearted Welcome

*  What aspect of your home or apartment do you enjoy most: the view, the quiet, the yard?  Let that aspect be the focus of you hospitality.  Share the aspects of your life that bring you the most pleasure.

Have a little bit of fun with the idea of giving guests and family the royal treatment.  Make a little crown out of gold paper and carry it in along with a breakfast-in-bed tray, or use it to designate a guest of honor at a family meal.

Piles of pillows are a relatively inexpensive way to add a luxuriously hospitable touch to any room.  It's a good idea to provide several different kinds of pillows- firm, soft and at least one hypoallergenic-so that guests can sleep on one that feels familiar.  Big, square European pillows are nice for reading in bed.

*  One of the big hits in our guest bathroom is a big, fluffy terry robe hanging on the back of the bathroom door.  If you love that touch in fancy hotels, why not invest in it for your own home?

Save the complimentary bottles of shampoo and lotion, the little sewing kits, and shoeshine cloths you receive in nice hotels (or buy from the "travel-size" rack in a drugstore).  Include a toothbrush and toothpaste.  Tuck into a little basket and tie with a ribbon for you guest bathroom.

*  Other extras that will be appreciated: a travel iron and small ironing board, a hair dryer, a lint brush, notepaper and pens, literature on local attractions.  Why not treat you guests to a disposable camera, too?

*  Basics can make a big difference to the experience of hospitality.  Is there plenty of toilet paper in the bathroom your guests will use?  Are there extra towels?

*  Try putting an overnight guest in your child's room for the night and give your child the "privilege" of camping out in the living room.  The result: an adventure for your child and welcome privacy for your guest.

*  If your guest is an old friend, pull out a picture of the two of you together, tuck it into an antique frame, and place it on the bedside table.

*  Even if guests elect to stay in a nearby motel, you can extend hospitality with a few special touches.  Have a floral arrangement sent to their room.  Or leave a basket of homemade muffins at the desk for their arrival.

*  It's a thoughtful gesture to ask in advance about your guests' needs: allergies, physical limitations, or other special circumstances.  The most beautiful home can lose its welcoming ambience if vegetarians are served meat, allergic people are obligated to sleep with the cat, or guest with arthritic needs must climb stairs three times a day.

*  When other people extend hospitality to you, don't forget the thank them!  A heartfelt not or a little gift will let your hosts know how much you appreciate them.  And a return invitation should be not an obligation, but a joy.

                                    from Emilie Barnes' "Welcome Home"

                                     "But every house where Love abides
                                           And Friendship is a guest,
                                Is surely home, and home, sweet home;
                                              For there the heart can rest."
                                                                  ~ Henry Van Dyke

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Macadamia Nut Oil Giveaway!!

     The Macadamia is a native Australian rainforest tree that loves the rich, volcanic soils, subtropical climate and high annual rainfall.

     The fruit it produces is "a hard nut to crack", much like black walnuts.  Due to the labor involved in shelling the nuts and the tropical environment required to grow them, Macadamias were traditionally more expensive than other nuts.  Prices have decreased in the past twenty years due to new cultivators with softer shells and expanded production.

     One hundred fifty years after it's discovery, the tree grows commercially in Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Hawaii, Israel, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, New Zealand and other tropical & subtropical regions, including Florida.

     Macadamia Nut Oil is highly nutritious  with the highest level of heart-healthy monosaturated fat of any edible oil, including desirable Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.  The high level of antioxidants slows rancity and allows the oil to be kept up to two years without refrigeration.  It also has a high smoke point, 450 degrees and retains its unique flavors when used for high-temperature cooking.

     Mountain Rose Herbs' Macadamia Oil, from their Epicurean Organic Culinary Oil collection, is made from expeller pressed organic Macadamia nuts.  It's pure oil is a unique and decadent treat with the alluring aroma and flavor of the champagne-colored oil, imparting a rich buttery sweetness to any dish.

     It's a marvelous oil to infuse with garlic, aromatic basil leaves or spicy red chilies.  A wonderful compliment to pasta salads, grilled seafood, omelets, vegetable sautes or as a finishing oil on oven-baked pizza. 

     Being asked to review several of their Epicurean Organics collection, I chose this oil out of curiosity.  My local grocery stores did not carry this oil (I checked) and I love Macadamia Nuts & organic products.

     As a family we enjoyed Macadamia Nut Oil in two different ways so far. 

    First, I took an old vintage bottle and infused some Macadamia Nut Oil with two minced garlic cloves & 2 Tablespoons of basil from our garden.  I allowed them to infuse while I cooked some whole wheat pasta & garden veggies.  I served the infused oil and a little dish of sea salt on the side for our family to drizzle & then sprinkle on our pasta.  Incredible. 

     Another evening, I made a tropical side salad tossed with pineapple & summer vegetables and tossed & drizzled the Macadamia oil lightly followed with a touch of sea salt. Being a family who enjoys olive oil & coconut oil often, this was such a wonderful and fresh experience.  We exchanged looks across the table as we commented to one another how delicious & almost-buttery this tasted. We truly enjoyed this Epicurean experience! 

Now it's your turn.......

Macadamia Nut Oil Giveaway!!

      Mountain Rose Herbs is generously giving away a free bottle of their Macadamia Nut Oil.  All you have to do to enter is just leave me a comment or e-mail. along with an e-mail I may contact you at.  I will randomly choose a winner on July 11th.

Blessings From Our Kitchen to Yours,



Colorado Wildfire

Just west of our home, an open field gives way to the Colorado mountains
and a spectacular, albeit a little unsettling, view of the raging wildfire.
For several weeks now, we have watched wasp-like helicopters fly overhead,
closed our windows to the suffocating smoke and during a light breeze, swept ash off our front porch.  Knowing full well, to be thankful I have a porch to sweep off.

The intensity of it all is now diminishing, yet I thought I would share some images of these past several weeks where I live.  My heart aches and I am very aware that further down south, in Colorado Springs, the wildfire has been extremely devasting.

Taken from my children's bedroom window

National Guard moving in
Something that was wonderful to experience throughout our community during this difficult time:
             an outward expression of gratitude for our firefighters.

After a long and very tiring shift, firefighters would come down from the mountains and pass by our neighborhood.  As we became aware of their nightly descent, our neighborhood began to gather on the road to express our heartfelt appreciation.

Tired smiles and blackened hands waved as they passed by.

Our son, Isaac waves to the firefighters.

As I stood with the crowd as truck after truck passed by and I actually saw the faces of the brave crews that risked it all, I kept fighting back the urge to cry at such an outward expression. 

At the beginning of the fire, we nervously looked at the maps on the internet of the fire and talked of evacuation.

What would we pack?
What is important to salvage?

My children amazed me with their sober wisdom & straightforwardness about the priceless things in their lives. 

If anything from these several weeks this summer, aside from the intense heartbreak from so many in our area, I've been given the fresh reminder that I need to keep my vision on the truly important things in life.  Things that wildfires cannot ravage to ash. 

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those whose lives were forever changed because of the Colorado wildfires.....

Under His Wings,

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mediterranean Herb Chicken Pizza

                         And a free give-away from Mountain Rose Herbs !!

A couple weeks ago, I was contacted by Mountain Rose Herbs & asked
if I could review some of the wonderful organic seasonings
from their Epicurean Organics collection.

This collection is perfect for the seasoned chef and kitchen
enthusiast alike.  Their gourmet oils, artisian salts, peppers,
exotic seasoning blends, and whole vanilla beans are
sure to enhance any dish. 

This week, let me share with you the Epicurean Organics Collection's

Mediterranean Seasoning:

This seasoning blend is filled with sumptous gourmet, all organic
ingredients: oregano, thyme, garlic, rosemary & fennel.

As a family we enjoyed using this seasoning to make a favorite:

Mediterranean Herb Chicken Pizza

(A delicious homemade pizza with garlic, chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese & baby spinach.)


Crust Ingredients:
10-11 oz. warm water (110 degrees)
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 Tablespoon coconut oil or butter
3 Tablespoons honey
2 1/2 cups flour (we used freshly-milled Winter White Wheat)
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Sauce/Topping Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil (to drizzle over dough)

1 Tablespoon Mediterranean Seasoning
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of black pepper
3 cups (12-16 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
1-2 cups cooked cubed chicken breast
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes (cut into smaller pieces)
1/2 to 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup diced onions
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup medium-sized Roma tomato, diced

1/2 cup Olives or Artichoke Hearts (optional)
Parmesan chees, for serving (optional)


1.  To make pizza crust, combine warm water, salt, coconut oil & honey into a mixing bowl.  Slowly add 2-2 1/2 cups of the flour, along with the yeast, and stir until a sticky dough forms.  Add more flour as needed, and knead dough with clean hands until a soft, elastic dough forms.  Knead for 5-7 minutes or so.

* If you have a bread machine, set machine to dough cycle & put ingredients into the machine in order listed.  (Start with 2 cups of flour and add more as it kneads if the dough looks too sticky.)  Dough should be slightly sticky, but smooth and elastic. 

2.  Liberally butter (we used coconut oil) a 16-inch round pizza pan.  With clean buttery/oily hands, spread and press the dough into the pan to form a pizza crust.  Drizzle Olive Oil over dough.  Using back of a spoon or fingers, evenly distributed oil over crust.

3.  Mix sauce/toppings ingredients together and sprinkle over dough. 

4.  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  When oven is ready, bake pizza for 10-12 minutes, or until the toppings are hot & bubbly.  If you like a thinner crust, pre-heat oven and bake immediately.  If you prefer a slightly thicker/fuller crust, allow pizza to rest for 15-20 minutes before baking.

5.  Remove pizza from oven; cut into slices after about 5 minutes.  Serve with Parmesean cheese if desired.

Our Family's Experience:

Our family LOVED the Mediterranean Herb Chicken Pizza with the exceptional, quality seasonings from Mountain Rose Herbs Epicurean Organic collection
My youngest daughter (whom sometimes can be a rather a "selective" eater) has asked several times since creating the wonderful pizza, when we were going to make it again.

**Enter Give-Away!!**

Mountain Rose Herbs would like to give away a free jar of
their Mediterranean Organic Seasoning!!

Please e-mail me or leave a comment to enter drawing ending June 26th!

Culinary Blessings,


joining this week at: