Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fall Cider Donuts Recipe!

Baked Apple Cider Donut Holes

makes 24-48 mini muffins or "donut holes" 


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup apple cider
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt (I used plain nonfat Greek yogurt)
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • canola cooking spray
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. 
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, apple butter, vanilla extract, honey, apple cider, yogurt, and canola oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient mixture and whisk until just incorporated. Don't over-mix - a few lumps are okay. 
  4. Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, fill a 24-hole mini muffin pan with the batter; fill each hole only 3/4 of the way, or you'll end up with huge mini muffins (maxi muffins?). Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes and cool on a wire rack. 
  5. While donut holes are still warm, melt butter in a microwave safe dish. Combine cinnamon and sugar in another dish. Using a pastry brush, very lightly brush a tiny bit of melted butter onto the top of each donut hole, then dip the top of the muffin in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the donut hole in the cinnamon sugar to coat the sides and top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
**Recipe taken from Feastie Blog:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Pizza Calzones

Adapted from a Pinterest recipe, here's what we're having for dinner tonight!

Pizza Calzones a la Livingstons
(makes 2 long calzones)

2 balls of pizza dough (from Whole Foods)
13 oz jar pizza sauce
12-16 oz shredded mozzarella
Grated parmesan (about 4 Tbsp total)
1/4 lb crumbled sausage (from Whole Foods pizza counter)
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 Tbsp garlic Powder

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly flour 2 feet of parchment paper. Stretch one ball of dough out into an approximately 2ft x 1 ft rectangle. Spread sauce longways down the middle third of the dough from end to end (making a 2 ft by about 4 inch strip of sauce). Sprinkle the sauce with sausage, mozzarella and a light amount of parmesan (1-2 Tbsp). Using a pizza cutter, slice the two long sides of raw dough into 1 inch 'fringe', perpendicular to the filling strip. Starting at the bottom, pull the first inch of dough up and across the filling, pinching down the dough into the other side of the dough, and trimming the excess dough off with kitchen scissors. On the other side, pull the other first strip of dough across the filling, pinch off and trim. Repeat in a criss-cross pattern until you get to the top. Seal up the two ends so that the sauce and cheese don't spill out during baking. Carefully transfer the calzone to a greased pizza stone or jelly roll pan (leaving behind the parchment paper). Re-pinch any openings between the dough to make a seal.

Repeat the steps above for the second ball of dough, creating a second calzone with just sauce and cheese (or add any other filling ingredients you might like... Pepperoni, hamburger, veggies, ham and pineapple...).

Transfer the second calzone to the pizza stone/jelly roll pan and bake until dough is just starting to turn golden brown.

Melt butter and mix with garlic powder and 1-2 Tbsp parmesan cheese. Brush onto each calzone and finish baking until the top is golden brown and dough is cooked through.

Let cool and slice into individual servings.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Deliver Me

I Shall Not Want
Audrey Assad
From the love of my own comfort
From the fear of having nothing
 From a life of worldly passions
     Deliver me O God
From the need to be understood
From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

    And I shall not want, I shall not want
when I taste Your goodness I shall not want
when I taste Your goodness I shall not want

From the fear of serving others
From the fear of death or trial
From the fear of humility
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God


This weekend I was surprised to stumble upon a few new (to me) blogs written by women who have such beautiful hearts and walks with the Lord that I had to share them with you. I added them to my sidebar blog list but here are the links anyways...

Chatting At The Sky


I found the artist Audrey Assad and her beautiful third album, "Fortunate Fall" through one of my favorite blog posts ever, written on Sayable. The post is called "Giving the Lion His Just Desserts" written on Sept 5, 2013. Click that link and go ahead and read Lore's stunning words. And then sit in silence and wonder at the thought of beating the enemy to the truth about who we are and being delivered from the power of his accusation. Um, yeah. I want to do that more. 

Is that scary? Yes. For me, just NAMING things specifically makes me tremble sometimes. Am I the only one? But I have to wholeheartedly agree that any deliverance I've ever experienced in my life has not come without an honest look at my soul, asking God to help me really see, calling things what they are, and whether it's writing down somewhere what I see in my heart, or praying out loud and putting real words to the abstract or hidden, or (deep breath) telling my husband or a trusted friend about the dark corners that lurk... that is the way I crack the door and let the light in. 

And how it always floods in. Glorious Light. I never fail to find forgiveness and grace in my Savior. I am always surprised (why?) by His goodness to me. The depth of His love that I was sure could not reach below my darkest places. Evidence that I need to engage in this practice more. A lot more. 

So today I'm praying for courage. 

I want to be unafraid of so many things, but I'm starting with freedom from the fear of seeing myself as The Lord sees me. I want so much more courage to name the things I struggle with, to name my sin, and to stop the cycle of accusation and begin to really SEE. Begin to NAME. Begin to kill the lion and stop wasting time trying to tame him.

I wrote this morning in my journal about what it means to cry out to God for deliverance. "Deliver me!"... This isn't my prayer a lot of the time. It's not my battle cry. Mine sounds a lot more like "God, I want... Make me able, Lord..." and while those aren't wrong, I think in my heart and spirit I've missed the mark. Some things in my life? I cannot handle, not on my own. Some things are just God's alone to come in and deliver me from. And that requires total humility and submission on my part. Throwing my hands up and releasing control of all the trying and striving. Letting my Father do the work, in His way and in His perfect time. Keeping the posture of a lowly servant as He works His purposes out in my heart and in my life. 

God, I need you. Deliver me. 

Ephesians 6:10-20

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlesslymake known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains.Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What He teaches me through her friendship

I love the way the Lord takes the hard things in our lives and never wastes them. Sometimes (probably more often than not) what seems like barely-redeemed-by-the-skin-of-your-teeth might have actually been planned out before the creation of the world for - wait for it - your good and God's glory. I don't pretend to know how God works, or what He plans vs. what He allows (and everything that is wrapped up in that whole discussion), but I do know that He is sovereign, and He is intimately involved in every aspect of our lives. What matters to us? It matters to Him. He loves us SO MUCH. I have never been more convinced of this truth than I am now.

It's no secret that my bestie, Kacey, jumped the Wheaton ship for a two year stint in London at the beginning of the summer. I haven't been able to blog about it much because it's... well... complicated. I could hardly send her off with a proper goodbye (resorting instead to hurried "see you soon"s and willing the tears to dry up). She has yet to receive my going-away present because I still can't put it together. I have been excited with and for her while also feeling very selfish and dreading her absence in my life.

And it's been a jumble of emotions and experiences since the day they packed up and moved out of their house just 4 blocks from mine. Putting words to it has been hard but it's time that I tried because what I've learned about her, myself, our friendship, and most of all my Lord has been nothing but beautiful and glorious and so faith building. I want to capture a few things I've realized and learned so far.

1. To pray for nearly a decade for a close friend to walk with, and then finally be given that good and perfect gift from the Lord is to experience a little bit of heaven on earth. We long (esp as women) to be deeply known, cared for, and loved for who we truly are. For the three(ish?) years that Kacey and I have walked in close friendship together here in Wheaton, I have grown in my confidence, faith, trust and love for others - mostly though, my love for God. We are such different personalities with different gifts and talents and strengths, and the Lord knew we could really benefit from one another and that I would be sharpened by a friendship with her. She's the one who wasn't bothered by my kids' fits, really poor displays of behavior, sassiness (even when it was directed at her children), and general chaos. She's the one who always stepped into the messy, confused places I'd find myself and offer her presence, her coffee (and sometimes wine), her unconditional love and acceptance. She's the one who told me I could do it, and she's the one who did it next to me when I wasn't sure I could do it on my own. She prayed me through heartache and listened to me when I rambled and stumbled to find clarity. We read books together. We led small group together. We did a lot of processing-life out loud, asking each other good questions, challenging perspectives, and just knew intuitively when we needed to speak an encouraging word. She is one of those people in my life that can speak truth into my life or a situation I find myself in, no matter how tough it is to receive.

2. To be separated geographically from a friend this close is really hard. We went from nearly daily interactions to living on separate continents. From spending time multiple times per week or at least talking or texting every day, to sporadic long distance phone calls and the occasional choppy facetime chat. We write our thoughts to each other, but I am desperately missing those face to face chats that explain all that is happening underneath the words in a single expression, or how you're able to read how someone is really doing or processing a situation by watching them try to verbalize it? There's just something in all those non-verbals that is very important in a close relationship that we lose between London and Wheaton. It breaks my heart. I don't know the nuances of my dear friend's experiences, emotions, and thoughts, even when she tries to explain them - things I knew so well.

3. The Lord has always been in the details of their move to London... way back from the very beginning when it was brought up as a distant possibility, to the day they were house hunting and happened upon the flat they would end up calling home, to the timing of their eventual move across the ocean. No detail was overlooked by our loving Father and He attended to every one of their needs in really amazing ways. He weaved together the timing of their move in a way that was perfect, although along the way it seemed to drag on forever. He placed them in a home that fit the needs they had as a whole family. He planted seeds in their minds about the kind of education they envisioned for their girls, then brought that unforeseen opportunity to light once they had moved. AND SO MUCH MORE. He has been so faithful and so clear in His provision for them, that I could not bear witness to it and have it produce anything other than deep faith in a God I already loved and trusted.

4. The Lord had a plan for ME wrapped up in His plan for Kacey and her family moving to London. I didn't expect this at all. (I can be pretty dense.) I sort of thought I would suffer the consequences of losing my friend and just deal with it or manage the sadness. What I didn't realize was that before this friendship was ever given to me, the plan for it was written out by a loving God who sees to ALL of our needs, works in all of our lives, and weaves all things together by His grace and in His time. What seemed like an event for Kacey was the beginning of a huge spiritual learning curve for me, in so many ways. I have learned what it means to be a true friend spiritually - when she is hurting, struggling, discouraged, confused or having a hard day, our distance and time difference pretty much keeps me from doing the instinctive things I used to do as a friend. Bring her a sweet treat, offer a meal, have them over, drop over to offer comfort or just to listen, leave a note in her mailbox, etc. Basically, love her in a hands-on, very present way. Instead, the most important thing I can do for my friend who is thousands of miles away and 6 hours ahead of me is to PRAY. I get on my knees for her so much more now than I ever did (and that's not to say I didn't pray for her when she was here - I did!). It's just that when it's the only thing that is meaningful that you can do? You realize after doing it so repetitively out of a desperate need to care for a friend that it is THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR FRIEND. And the best thing I can do for myself. Thank you, Jesus, for showing me this. My faithful prayer over her life and spirit is more important and loving than any trinket I could leave on her doorstep, more lasting than a sweet treat that shows her I see her and I care, and even though those things are good and communicate love, they are not the things that last or move God's hand or knit our spirits and hearts together spiritually. As a result, our friendship does not ultimately suffer because of this separation and distance. It is knitting us closer together in Christ, and that is a beautiful surprise. Especially since half the time she doesn't know I'm doing anything at all.

5. Our distance has caused me to reevaluate my life - priorities, the way we spend time, relationships, patterns... I wasn't looking to replace my friendship with Kacey once she moved, or the time we used to spend together. I wanted to sit in the empty places and let it speak to me, let God move in a little closer as I felt the heartache of this (in-a-way) loss. Show me things I wasn't able to see while she was here, or close. And I'm so thankful that He gave me the strength to face the deep ache. I have found a sweetness in my intimacy with Him that honestly could have only come at this point in time, in this way. It's hard to put this into words, but it was a great tenderness on God's behalf towards me. He has been a constant companion in the times I have desperately needed my soul sister and not had her by my side. He has been so real and faithful to me, as He always has been and always will be, and it has opened my eyes to the ways that the blessing of close friendship can sometimes compromise that intimacy with our Savior (when it's easy to run to her instead of wait on and seek Him). I feel that I just have a greater awareness of how jealous God is of our hearts, and although friendship is a gift, it's never meant to take the place of our intimate relationship with Christ. And so, in the absence of my dearest friend's physical presence in my life, God has stepped in and reminded me that He really is everything to me. My relationships will be healthier and benefit so much more from this appropriate balance I am learning. Jesus is all. Jesus has the firstfruits of my time, energy, attention and heart. And other relationships are better and ultimately stronger because of that, but they come after. I can't wait for Kacey to move back and to continue on in friendship out of this new growth I've experienced. I will be a much better friend!

So Kacey, because I know you will read this...

I love you. I'm so thankful for you. I miss you and I'm praying over you today. Thank you for all you've been for me, for what you've taught me, for the ways you're still teaching me what it means to love God, be a friend, and be the best version of myself. You are such a gift in my life! Hurry home.