Wednesday, September 29, 2010

BEEsy in the Kitchen: Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage, Peppers, & Onions Panini

As Hayden and I prepared for a trip to the zoo this morning, I searched my fridge and pantry for something to pack for our brown bag lunch. Sandwiches sounded good, but I didn't have any deli meats and I wasn't craving PB&J today. I'd just picked up a package of sweet Italian turkey sausage the day before, and I still had some tomato basil bread leftover from a recent visit to Panera. Hmmm . . . Add some sauteed bell pepper and onion slices, a little bit of shredded mozzarella cheese, a few sprinkles of grated Parmesan, and a drizzle of pizza sauce. Voila! A new sandwich favorite. And the best part . . . It's healthier than similar versions I've ordered at sandwich shops. I hope you enjoy this recipe! :0)

A few notes about this recipe: Use your panini press if you have one or toast the sandwiches in a skillet or under the broiler in your oven. You can adjust the amount of olive oil used to saute the veggies and the amount of cheese according to your preferences and dietary needs.

Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage, Peppers, & Onions Panini
Serves 4

4 sweet Italian turkey sausage links, cooked
2 tsp olive oil
1 large sweet bell pepper, sliced thinly
1 small red or yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/4 cup pizza sauce (to drizzle on sandwich and for dipping)
8 slices of your favorite bread
Butter or margarine to spread on bread or cooking/butter spray for bread


(1) Preheat panini press at medium heat or broiler, if using.

(2) Thinly slice each cooked turkey sausage lengthwise. Set aside.

(3) Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper and onion slices and saute until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside.

(4) Spread butter or margarine on one side of each bread slice. (As an alternative, you can spray one side of each slice with cooking spray or butter spray).

(5) Stack the following ingredients in the order listed on the unbuttered side of one bread slice: turkey sausage slices from one link, 1/4 of the pepper and onion mixture, 1 TBSP pizza sauce, 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1 TBSP grated Parmesan. Place the unbuttered side of another bread slice on top of the sandwich filling. Repeat for 3 more sandwiches.

(6) If using skillet to toast sandwiches, heat skillet on medium-high heat. Depending on your toasting method, place prepared sandwiches on the panini press, in the skillet, or under the broiler. Cook until both sides are toasted and cheese is melted. Serve remaining pizza sauce for dipping, if desired.

Monday, September 27, 2010

BEE Fulfilled: The Mountain Peaks Belong to Him

For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
~Psalm 95:3-4 (NIV)~

Each autumn, my family and I set out for a day trip to view the fall colors in Colorado's Rocky Mountains. One of our favorite drives is over Fremont and Independence Passes. This last Saturday, we embarked on a 375-mile scenic drive over these two passes. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day for our trek as we marveled at a classic Colorado blue sky, the reddened tundra along the mountainsides, and golden aspen leaves fluttering from gentle breezes. Atop the summit of Independence Pass, I stood in awe at the magnificence and exquisiteness of God's creations. What an imagination our Heavenly Father had when he created the mountains! I'd like to share some of the photos I took on Saturday along with some psalms that sing praises to our Almighty Creator. May they be a blessing to you! :0)

Psalm 95:1-7

1 Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.

2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.

3 For the LORD is the great God,
the great King above all gods.

4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.

5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel bef
ore the LORD our Maker;

7 for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.

Psalm 65:5-13

5 You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness,
O God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas,

6 who formed the mountains by your power,
having armed yourself with strength,

7 who stilled the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
and the turmoil of the nations.

8 Those living far away fear your wonders;
where morning dawns and evening fades
you call forth songs of joy.

9 You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain,
for so you have ordained it.

10 You drench its furrows
and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers
and bless its crops.

11 You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.

12 The grasslands of the desert overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.

13 The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled wi
th grain;
they shout for joy and sing.

Psalm 36:5-7

5 Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens,

your faithfulness to the skies.

6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the great deep.

O LORD, you preserve both man and beast.

7 How priceless is your unfailing love!

Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 148

1 Praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD from the heavens,
praise him in the heights above.

2 Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.

3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars.

4 Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.

5 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for he commanded and they were created.

6 He set them in place for ever and ever;

he gave a decree that will never pass away.

7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,

8 lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,

9 you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,

10 wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,

11 kings of the earth and all nations,

you princes and all rulers on earth,

12 young men and maidens,
old men and children.

13 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.

14 He has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his saints,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.

Praise the LORD.

Psalm 100

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.

3 Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;

we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.

5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Psalm 8

1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory

above the heavens.

2 From the lips of children and infants

you have ordained praise
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,

4what is man that

you are mindful of him,

the son of man that you care for him?

5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:

7 all flocks and herds,
and the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the air,
and the fish of the sea,
all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Friday, September 17, 2010

BEEing A Mom: Oh, What a Mess!

Some rocks, sticks, mud, and water: all the ingredients needed for a boy to embark on a playtime adventure.

As I peeked out my kitchen window earlier this afternoon, I knew this beautiful September day could not be wasted indoors. So I rounded up my crew--my little guy, Hayden, and our golden retriever, Bogie--and off we headed for some playtime at our neighborhood lake.

When we arrived at the lake's southern beach, I realized this trek probably would not end without paws and shoes laden in mud and fur and clothes drenched. I cringed at the gloppy mud bordering the lake's shoreline. I must confess I didn't want to release Bogie from his leash or allow Hayden to veer near the mud and water. Oh, to think of the mess they would make.

But as we strolled along the beach, Hayden inched closer and closer to the shoreline. Just on the edge of the muddy patch, Hayden bent over and gathered rocks, throwing them into the water. A few more steps and he plopped his Buzz Lightyear shoes into the muck. Bogie ran back and forth, begging me with whimpers to allow him to plunge into the lake. I sighed as I knelt to release Bogie from his leash. He dashed for the water, splashing Hayden along the way.

Hayden found a stick and pretended it was a fishing pole. I watched as clumps of mud clung to his shoes. Bogie ran to me and shook his damp fur, splattering drops of mud on my legs and clothes. At this point, keeping clean was a lost cause. So I shrugged when Hayden sat in the mud to empty his water-filled shoes, gathered handfuls of mud in the water, and skated in the mud.

Oh, what a mess it was! But oh, I'd do it again just to hear Hayden giggle and say "wee" every few steps and to watch Bogie act like the frisky puppy he once was many years ago.

Friday, September 10, 2010

BEEtween the Pages: Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado

"Here's a salute to a long life: goodness that outlives the grave, love that outlasts the final breath. May you live in such a way that your death is just the beginning of your life."

~Excerpt from Max Lucado's Outlive Your Life~

What if we as Christians were to follow in the footsteps of those in the early Christian church described in the first twelve chapters of Acts? What if we "rocked the world with hope? Infiltrated all corners with God's love and life?" In Max Lucado's newest book, Outlive Your Life, he challenges Christians to do just this. The great works carried out by those in the early church were not intended to occur only once in history but rather to extend over the centuries and generations to follow. Lucado prays: Do it again, Jesus. Do it again.

In the first chapter of this book, Lucado gives readers a snapshot of the heartbreaking problems and issues many face in our world today. He writes:

These are devastating times: 1.75 billion people are desperately poor, 1 billion hungry, millions are trafficked in slavery, and pandemic diseases are gouging entire nations. Each year nearly 2 million children are exploited in the global commercial sex trade and in the five minutes it took you to read these pages, almost ninety children died of preventable diseases. More than half of all Africans do not have access to modern health facilities. As a result, 10 million of them die each year from diarrhea, acute respiratory illness, malaria, and measles. Many of those deaths could be prevented by one shot.

Lucado recognizes the complexities involved in solving these global issues, but he believes that "God has given this generation, our generation, everything we need to alter the course of human suffering." In the chapters to follow, Lucado gives examples of believers throughout history--from those in the early Christian church to those today--who have outlived their lives. He also provides readers with practical ways they, too, can outlive their lives, including opening your door and your heart to others, doing good quietly, standing up for the have-nots, remembering who holds you, not writing anyone off, and praying first and most.

This book ranks toward the top of my list of the best books I've read this year. It stirred within me a deep yearning to seek God's direction on how I, too, can outlive my life. As I read this book, I pondered on how many times I have allowed fear, complacency, and busyness to keep me in my clamshell and prevent me from reaching out to those in need. The believers in the early Christian church showed us how to "let God unshell" us and use us to love and help others. Do it again, Jesus. Do it again.

I highly recommend this book to all readers. It will change your life. :0)

For more information about this book, please visit Thomas Nelson's website.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

BEEtween the Pages: The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews

What would it be like to be hungry all the time? Norman wondered as he looked at the endless rows of corn. There has to be a way this corn can feed the hungry people, he thought.

Right then and there, Norman decided to change the world.

~Excerpt from Andy Andrew's
The Boy Who Changed the World~

In his recent children's book, The Boy Who Changed the World, Andy Andrews tells the story of Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug and his yearning as a child in Iowa to one day feed the hungry. As an adult, Norman accomplishes his dream. But he couldn't have achieved it without the help of Vice President Henry Wallace and the decisions and actions of two men of earlier generations.

This intriguing story focuses on how our decisions today, no matter how small they seem at the time, can profoundly affect future generations. As the mom of a four-year-old, I cherish stories like this one that teaches my son the value of making a difference in the world, of genuinely caring about the well-being of others, and of not being afraid to pursue mammoth-sized goals. With its beautiful illustrations by Phillip Hurst and its timeless story, this book will find a special spot on our bookshelf and in our bedtime reading ritual.

I highly recommend this book to all parents. For more information about this book, please visit Thomas Nelson's website.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

BEEtween the Pages: Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

"Sometimes, Ruth thought, emotions were like a horsefly. Just when you thought you'd banish it from the kitchen, here it came buzzing back. If only there was a flyswatter that could kill stubborn, stupid, illogical . . . hope."

~From Stephanie Grace Whitson's Sixteen Brides~

If I were to use one word to describe Stephanie Grace Whitson's newest novel, Sixteen Brides, it would be hope. This theme is gracefully woven throughout the pages of this delightful book about a group of widows who journey to the prairies of Nebraska with a dream of owning land.

Their adventure begins in the spring of 1871 when they board a train in St. Louis bound for Nebraska. As an organizer of the Ladies Emigration Society, Hamilton Drake promises each of the ladies one hundred and sixty acres of land free and clear if they stay for five years. But during their stop in Plum Grove, Nebraska--just shy of Cayote, their final destination--the ladies discover that Mr. Drake has not been honest and forthcoming about his reasons for luring them out to Nebraska's prairies. Some of the ladies refuse to continue on the journey and decide to stay in Plum Grove. Soon, seven of them--each with different backgrounds and different reasons for journeying to Nebraska--form a partnership and plan that will have the locals talking and the ladies clinging to hope once again.

I found this book very enjoyable and entertaining to read, particularly its theme, humor, historical setting, and cast of characters. From the first to last page, Whitson masterfully weaves the theme of hope, with each character holding on to it in one way or another. And she had me giggling often at the humorous comparisons and sayings riddled throughout the story. The historical facts and landscape also intrigued me, especially the descriptions of homesteading on the prairies in the late 1800s. But most memorable to me were the characters. Each of the main characters possesses a distinct voice and style and you cannot help but to like them all.

I highly recommend this book to women who enjoy historical and romance novels.

For more information about this book, please visit Bethany House's website.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it.