Monday, December 20, 2010

Cappuccino Fudge

Cappuccino Fudge
1 (7 oz.) jar marshmallow cream
½ c. sugar
2/3 c. heavy whipping cream
¼ c. margarine/butter
1 t. instant coffee powder
¼ t. cinnamon
¼ t. salt
1 (12 oz.) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
Line an 8” square baking pan with aluminum foil; set aside. In a 2 qt. saucepan, combine marshmallow cream, sugar, cream, butter, coffee powder, cinnamon and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Continue to boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate chips until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Place on cutting board and cut into 36 squares. You can double the recipe to fit a 9x13 pan and make 72 squares.
Source: Annie's Eats - (picture and recipe)

Variations on this recipe that I have tried and we really liked:
Chocolate Fudge:
Omit the cinnamon and instant coffee powder. Follow all other instructions exactly.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge:
Before starting the boiling process, heat up some creamy or chunky peanut butter in the microwave and then stir in some powdered sugar, heating and stirring in between to help it reach the desired consistency (thin, sweetened peanut butter). If it is not super thin don't worry - it will still work. Don't mix in the cinnamon and instant coffee powder in the beginning; instead just make normal chocolate fudge. Follow all other directions exactly, pouring the fudge into the pan. Wait a few minutes for the fudge to cool a bit and meanwhile heat the peanut butter back up in the microwave for 30 seconds or so. Then spoon globs of peanut butter on top of the fudge and use a knife to spread it around, swirling it into the fudge. You can really use as much peanut butter as you want - it just depends on how you want it to taste! This was Jordan's family's favorite.
Mint Chocolate Fudge:
Omit the cinnamon and instant coffee powder. After you have completed all of the boiling phases and you are about to pour the fudge into the pan, add about a teaspoon of peppermint extract to the fudge and stir it in. You can add more if it is not minty enough. **You could also crush up some candy canes and mix those in!** In the future, I will do something a little different to this fudge probably to make it more minty looking - I will make 2 batches of the fudge, mixing in white chocolate chips and some green food coloring in one half of it and making the other half regular minty fudge, and then swirl them up together in the pan so it looks green and brown and people actually know it is mint. Just an idea that I'm not totally positive will work.

You should really try this recipe - it is so easy and really really good! It is not dry at all and gets a bit soft even if not stored in the fridge.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

staff team Christmas pic!

I can not say enough about how much I love these people.
I love having wonderful, Christian co-workers who care about us. It is amazing and one of the best parts of my job. I have been looking at this picture often since we have moved away from Blacksburg, and I am so sad to not work with these fine people anymore. (minus the Luhrmans - hooray we go to Aus with them!) Thank you Jesus for this blessing you put into our lives the past 3 years - they have been a great encouragement to us in our lives and our marriage as we had some of the most difficult and influential years of our life together. We love you so much!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas card pics!!

My 16-year old cousin took these for us! I thought they turned out really well for a 3 minute photo shoot! We ended up using the B&W smiling one (the 3rd one in the post) for our Christmas card, which we got from pear tree greetings. I really love them! Hopefully when I get them in the mail tomorrow I still will. :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving Recap!

I had breakfast with Sherri this morning and I was reminded that I don't update my blog often enough. I really want to get into a good habit of sharing our life with those we're leaving behind when we go to Australia in....37 days!! Oh my. That is soon.

Right before thanksgiving we went on a staff retreat at Deep Creek Lake, then to the Regional Staff Conference on the eastern shore of Maryland, so we were ready to relax a little. We were also both a little sick.

with Katie and Julie at Staff Retreat
Julie and Kelsey with Katie and Lauren during our petting zoo adventure
On Monday night, we found out that one of the students very involved in Cru, Eli, had died in an accident while hiking, which was really shocking and so sad. Thankfully, we felt very comforted by the Lord and still really enjoyed Thanksgiving even though it was hard.

So our thanksgiving holiday this year was quite extended, delicious, and a great time to spend with family. Since we're leaving so soon, there are obviously limited opportunities left for us to see our extended family, so Jordan and I tried to initiate even more thanksgiving festivities than normal! Our schedule: Wednesday night - Thanksgiving dinner with Jordan's mom's side of the family. Thursday: Thanksgiving feast with my mom's side of the family. Friday: leftovers extravaganza in Manassas with my dad's side of the family. Thankfully we took some quality family walks this week too so hopefully that helped to offset some of the calories we took in without shame.

Our Wednesday dinner was planned by the "kids," i.e. Jordan, me, Jason (Jordan's brother), and Emily (their cousin). This was fun because usually everything is organized and cooked by the matriarchs of the family. So - we got our first chance to try to roast the turkey for the family! Let me tell you, it was kind of out of control. Picture me, Jordan, Jason, and Daddy Peace circled around the sink, trying to juggle a 22lb turkey, while I am digging around up to my elbows in the turkey trying to pull something out but none of us had any clue what it was! We almost cooked the turkey with the bag of giblets still inside simply because we couldn't find them! Anyway - it was hilarious and definitely memorable. Then, while cooking, we had 2 thermometers, both showing different temperatures, and because we didn't desire to make the whole family sick with food poisoning, we were concerned. Long story short, after figuring out that the convection oven actually does cook the turkey much faster than we anticipated, we just stopped cooking it, crossing our fingers that it was actually done. Then on the way to Jordan's grandpa's house (20 minutes late) where we were serving the meal, we were all carrying liquids on our laps (wassail, gravy, tea) plus the turkey and about 4 sides, with them sloshing around and us screaming when we hit a bump. We did finally make it and the turkey was wonderful! Super juicy and delicious, even two days later! Success.

here's our pretty turkey!
Thursday was a bit more relaxing since all I made were the mashed potatoes. We had fun hanging out and playing Pit and watching Oliver Twist that night.

Friday was good, but I think we talked about birth a little more than Jordan appreciated. My aunt Jen is about to pop any day now, and being a doula, she knows lots about the whole process and was just filling us in on EVERYTHING! Then she kept telling Jordan he better listen because he'll need to know this stuff some day. I thought it was interesting, but poor Jordan. The leftovers were delicious and we played a long game of Balderdash which was enjoyable - even if Dad won.

my Aunt Jen and my little cousin Myra Clare - and baby on the way!

here's the family picture we took at Jen's
That's our thanksgiving recap! We didn't do much else besides a little shopping and reading. It was relaxing.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

natural. gorgeous. beauty.

These were taken in arguably the most beautiful county in Virginia...Tazewell.
This is where my grandparents homeplace is.
We got to go there for Halloween weekend.
This is one of the places I will miss most in the US.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Life Update!

The last two weeks have been CRAZY! But I secretly love it.

To preface this, if you don't know, Jordan and I are moving to Australia for Stint (a one-year international assignment) to help build up the movements in Melbourne city center. Obviously this is a big change since we've spent our first 2 years married in the same apartment that we love in Blacksburg, VA. So, about a month ago, a man came to look at our apartment since we were trying to turn over the lease so we don't get stuck with rent for the rest of the year (through July). He really liked it and was living in a hotel, so he said he wanted it. We told him we couldn't move out just yet but moved up our time to move out mid-November. Then we set to helping him look for someone he could room with for a month since we know way more people here than he does. That was unsuccessful, so 2 weeks ago, we started talking with our boss and his wife (the Highfield's) about possibly moving out sooner. Lisa and I hashed out a plan for us live with them for 4 weeks until the end of the semester which put us moving out...October 24. We decided to just sleep on it and pray about it and talk to the man who wanted to rent. So on Wednesday last week we decided we were definitely doing it!! We just couldn't pass up someone who was ready and waiting to take our place and we just took it as a cue from the Lord that we were supposed to move out now!

This week we have been busy packing and getting boxes (people probably think we are drink a lot now because we have been to the ABC store for so many boxes - great place to go if you're ever moving). Today all the pictures and art and curtains and decorations all came off the walls and now our house is so echo-y and I hate it but I feel really confident in our decision. All our wonderful friends are helping us move on Sunday so we are kind of officially making the transition to Australia-mode!

Here is what I read in my devotional the day we decided to move out and I couldn't stop crying: (Written from Jesus's POV)
"Though I have brought many pleasures into your life, not one of them is essential. Receive My blessings with open hands. Enjoy My good gifts, but do not cling to them. Turn your attention to the Giver of all good things, and rest in the knowledge that you are complete in Me. The one thing you absolutely need is the one thing you can never lose: My Presence with you." So challenging but so comforting! I love how God know's just what I need.

Love Jessamyn

Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting

These are perfect. This is a cherished, passed down recipe from who knows who during college. Not only is it incredibly easy, but they are actually much healthier muffins than many varieties you might try. This is because the butter, milk, eggs, whatever, you might add is substituted for a can of pumpkin. As far as the cream cheese frosting goes, this is not so healthy, but I omitted one cup of sugar to help it a little bit - but it's still not very healthy. These muffins and great with or without the frosting, though! I made these for staff meeting and Adam Wilson's birthday and they were loved by all. They always are - and it is by nothing I've done! You are going to laugh when you see the recipe and how stinkin' easy it is!

Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 regular sized can pumpkin puree
1 box of spice cake mix

Heat oven to 350. Mix two ingredients together with a wooden spoon and lots of muscle. Plop the sticky batter into 12 greased muffin tins. Bake for about 20 minutes or until they seem done (toothpick trick works great). These muffins are kinda spiky when you take them out but no worries.

For the frosting:
4 oz (1/2 package) cream cheese (tastes just as good with reduced fat), room temperature
1 stick of butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups confectioner's sugar

Beat the cream cheese and butter together with a mixer and then add the vanilla. Gradually add the sugar and whip until combined. Yummy! This is enough to generously frost the muffins and you'll still have a bit left. I eat it with graham crackers usually. Oops. That's not healthy.

These muffins look especially pretty if you sprinkle cinnamon on top. Enjoy!
Photo Credit: Please Pass the Pie

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

White Chicken Chili

On Monday, we had a day off since we were working like crazy at fall retreat this weekend! Jordan and I spent a good amount of time that day just remembering his mom and missing her. I think one thing I have learned about the grieving process is that you never know when sadness or memories will hit you. And it could be a happy or sad experience, depending on the day.

For dinner that night, I decided to make one of her classic meals - White Chicken Chili. Jordan loves it and so do it and our friends enjoyed it too, since I doubled it to feed 5 and have leftovers.

Here is her recipe, always made with love:

White Chicken Chili
2 cans great northern (white) beans, mostly drained
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast (cut into 1/2 inch cubes)
1 chopped medium onion
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 can chicken broth (14.5 oz)
1 (7oz) can chopped green chilies
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin - makes it smell soooo good!
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper - I put in a little bit more and it definitely had a kick
1 cup (or a little less) sour cream
1/2 cup (or less) whipping cream - this makes it really creamy - I put in less (6 tbsp) or I may use half and half next time just to make it a little healthier. But it is so good this way!

In a large saucepan, saute the chicken, onion, and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. It will have produced liquid which is fine. Add the beans, broth, chillies, and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream and cream. Serve with dollops of sour cream. I serve with beer biscuits and honey butter or cornbread.

Delicious!! Serves 5.

Fall Retreat

This weekend was fall retreat! There was so much hype leading up to it with all the planning and praying and thinking through ever single detail thanks to Dan's attention to everything. You did a great job! Not that you'll ever read this.

We went down on Friday morning, packing out our cars with all kinds of stuff to take - from s'mores supplies for 400 to sound equipment and instruments, we were set! I love love our staff team so even little things like caravanning together and stopping for lunch on the way is really fun. I got quite the education on bow hunting from Mike Miller over lunch which was enlightening and now I really want to go! I think. It was also really fun that Holly and Josh Deng joined us since Holly was singing and playing in the band, and Josh was running the soundboard and was a general help during the meetings. Jordan was singing in the band too this weekend which was really fun!

The weekend went as well as it could have possibly gone. Our speaker - Byron Straughn - on staff with Cru from the regional office - was awesome and I felt that the talks were broken down and easy enough for someone who had never heard about God before to understand, but somehow complex and stimulating enough for the most mature believers there. I learned so much about Jesus as our priest, a prophet, a servant, and our King!

So far, we have heard of at least 6 who chose to trust Christ with their life this weekend, and it is probably more. My brother's roommate was one of them! Praise the Lord! I have been praying for him.

On a side note, I got to be the emergency contact this weekend :) So that meant I spent lots of fun times in the emergency room! Of course it was with boys. Thankfully, God protected everyone from any serious injuries and it was actually enjoyable for me to be able to just take care of them and make sure they were comfortable.

Unfortunately, I got one picture of the ride home - Holly and Josh asleep in the backseat. So I won't be posting any pictures here, but I wish I could!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Shrimp and Okra Gumbo with Creamy Yogurt Grits

This meal was really tasty! Much more so than I even expected - and I have to say, Jordan wasn't too excited about it. But with so many vegetables and since it is a classic southern dish, I really wanted to try this Cooking Light version. We loved it! It also reheated really well (with a little added cream in the grits so they would become smooth again) and we ate this again last night for dinner. Okra is really in season now so I have seen it at the farmer's market downtown, but I actually got this okra from Walmart and it tasted great! This is the first time I have cooked with okra, so I was a little weirded out by the texture - when you slice it, it's actually kind of sticky and it has this stuff - I can't even explain it - that is stretchy and silky coming out of it. So, needless to say, the weirdness cooks out and I thought the okra was great! YAY - another vegetable we both really like! I cut up all the vegetables earlier in the day so we could go for a run and I could make this in under 30 minutes before Jordan had band practice.

Here is the recipe - let me know if you try it!

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups gumbo and 1 1/2 teaspoons parsley)


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 10 tablespoon fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 ounces smoked ham, chopped (I couldn't find the smoked ham, so I got a 1/2 lb ham steak from Walmart for $2.50 and I'm using the rest in omelets.)
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 2/3 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound fresh okra pods, sliced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper (I didn't have this so I used crushed and it worked great)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained (I didn't use the whole can since Jordan hates tomatoes)
  • 3/4 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup quick cooking grits
  • 1 cup fat-free Greek-style yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp (kosher) salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour; cook 1 minute or until lightly browned, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add broth; stir with a whisk until thick. Pour into a bowl; set aside. Wipe pan clean with paper towels.

2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion and ham; cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add bell pepper and next 4 ingredients (through okra); cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are almost tender, stirring occasionally. Add broth mixture, water, and next 6 ingredients (through tomatoes). Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in shrimp; cook 4 minutes or until shrimp are done. Sprinkle with parsley.

For the grits: Bring 2 and a half cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Then gradually whisk in the grits. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 8 minutes or until thick. (It only took me 5 at the most). Stir in the yogurt (I actually didn't have enough so I added a little half-and-half and it seemed to do the trick), salt, and pepper.

On a plate, spread some grits onto a plate and top with gumbo. ENJOY!

Nutritional Information (just for the gumbo - grits add about 150 calories)

10.5g (sat 1.4g,mono 4.4g,poly 2.8g)

Adeena Sussman, Cooking Light, APRIL 2010
Here is my picture of the veggies cooking - they were soo good!

and THIS, is the picture of the hunk of meat Dan and Jordan smoked this weekend.

I know - it's 9 pounds of meaty goodness. This was smoked for 9 hours, forcing us to have dinner at 9:30pm! It was well worth the wait!


Saturday, September 25, 2010

thunder valley

Last night, Jordan and I and Dan and Kelsey went to Thunder Valley in Salem. I wish I had taken pictures because it was probably really funny to see four people in their mid-twenties playing laser tag against 10 year old kids. I felt pretty bad when we beat 6 kids 10,000 points to 1,900. After a game (on a horrible course) of putt-putt, and spending our 40 tokens in the arcade as fast as we could before the place closed, we left for Red Robin, and Kels and I both got car sick. :( It was a good night - I love getting to experience all that Southwest VA has to offer, especially now that I'm getting so nostalgic about leaving.
I am planning to try to catch up on posting about this summer, but that will have to happen gradually. Today we're smoking meat and watching the game while preparing for the missions conference our church is having tomorrow. Go Hokies!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

look what we got in the mail!!!!

We have officially been invited to work in Australia! We are sponsored!! YAY!
Now we just have to get that darn visa. :)
And look at those amazing pictures on the stamps! No wonder people think we're going for vacation instead of ministry!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

dinner tonight!

I thought I would post this recipe because it is one that I made during the first few months we were married, loved it, and for some crazy reason I keep forgetting to make it again. What is wrong with me sometimes? It has been on my list of notes to remember to fix for probably two months, and then has traveled around the pages of my agenda for the past week and tonight is the night - it will be made. And it better be as good as I remember.

So, here it is:

Rachel Ray's Chicken with Leek and Lemon-Poppy Muffin Stuffin' with Pucker-Up Pan Gravy Broth (WHEW - quite a title!)
4 Servings

2 medium leeks
2 tablespoons EVOO, twice around the pan
4 tbsp unsalted butter
2 celery ribs
4 lemon poppy seed muffins
3-4 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves stripped and chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp poultry seasoning
2 cups chicken stock
8 chicken breast cutlets
Salt and Black Pepper
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
A handful of fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish (I'm just going to use more thyme cause I love it)

Cut off the tough tops of the leeks, leaving 3-4 inches of greens. Trim the root ends and half the leeks lengthwise. Thinly slice the leeks into half moons and transfer them to a colander. Run the leeks under cold water and separate all of the layers, freeing the sand and grit. Drain the clean sliced leeks well. **In case you are like me, and you didn't know what leeks were until this recipe - they are like giant spring onions! They are sold in bunches of 2-3 at Walmart.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium to medium high heat with the EVOO and 2 tbsp butter. When butter has melted, add the leeks and celery. Saute the veggies for 5 minutes, then crumble the lemon poppy seed muffins into the pan. Toast the muffin crumbles with the veggies for 3-4 minutes. Season the stuffing with the fresh thyme, lemon zest, and poultry seasoning. Moisten the stuffing with up to 1 cup of the chicken stock and reduce the heat to low.

Here is the finished product of the stuffing...and then I got so excited I didn't take any more pictures. :)
While the stuffing works, heat a second skillet over medium high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, then transfer it to a platter and cover it with foil to keep it warm. Add the remaining 2 tbsp butter to the pan and when it melts sprinkle the flour into the pan. Stir and cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the remaining cup of chicken stock. Cook for 2 minutes, or until thickened. Whisk in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Pile up the stuffing on 4 plates, Top with 2 chicken cutlets and ladle gravy over the top. Garnish with something green :)

I'm serving it with a green salad with lots of veggies. Maybe if I get crazy I'll post a picture of it tomorrow on the blog!

-From Rachel Ray's Express Lane Meals-

Friday, July 23, 2010

i sorta forgot i had a blog

and this is not a promise i've officially remembered it...

but it's been crazy busy around here, y'all! tonight we went to the new river valley fair and boy was it country. i loved it though. even though i live in southwest virginia, i don't often get to experience it the way most southwest virginians probably do. there were huge cows and tons of bleating lambs and a tractor race and homemade corn dogs and lots of country people with their cowboy hats and their 4H club ribbons for winning in whatever category their goat or pig caught the judges eye. a little girl (2 years old little) standing beside me watching the sheep cry their little hearts out even said "they're a-hollerin'!" it was really cute.

that's not all that we've been up to. i don't really feel the need to recap everything just now, but let's just say we've been traveling like crazy. with vacation, summer project, family trips, and a couple weddings thrown in there, we've definitely clocked a sufficient amount of driving time. probably close to 100 hours. anyway, maybe i'll post some pictures on here soon, but i just thought this blog seemed so forlorn without its background, and with all these posts about snow at the top. hope everyone's doing well!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

one snow day to the next

apparently that is my blogging schedule. Yesterday was just beautiful and so much fun. Of course you all know we had about 10 inches of snow here in Virginia. So, our snow day adventures commenced early, with me promptly cancelling my girls brunch :( Sad! Oh well, we will try again soon. We settled in to doing some reading, cleaning, laundry, your normal things. But then we got to go do some real winter adventuring in the afternoon! With Holly and Josh! It's so nice to live so close to friends, and in a small town, I guess it happens a lot, but I'm still thankful. We walked over there in our snow gear (I could barely bend my legs because I wore too many stinkin layers!). I fell about 6 times walking over there since Jordan took me up a steep hill with unpenetrated silky slippery was fun. Then we went down the hills around their apartment complex but eventually decided to make a loop around the larger Ellett neighborhood. Let me just say - that was a workout!! Holly and I walked behind our husbands so they could make some sort of tracks for us since our legs are just a bit shorter than theirs. We had to stop halfway through for a angel making session (or was that just our excuse to lay down for a minute?!) This snow made for an excellent mattress, we all agreed. Then we walked about a mile or more loop stopping at every good hill. I should have taken pictures, but it just seems my luck always catches me with a dying battery (or I'm always forgetting to charge it). After several GIANT hills and lots of laughs, we made it back to our house with wet hands and Jordan's jeans soaked through! Such a trooper. We then tried to excavate our car from the snow to drive it back over to their house. That was a sad fail. Jordan was very diligent but in the end, the snow won the battle. This morning we woke up to a plowed driveway, with a gigantic pile of snow right behind...guess what...our car. We'll see how that battle goes this afternoon. At least we got to finish up with some delicious snow cream and good company. :) Enjoy your snow days!