Introducing New Inkspy, Stacy Monson!

Here at Inkspirational Messages we’re thrilled to introduce you to our new member, Stacy Monson!

I met Stacy over two years ago when she volunteered to bring together an ACFW group for Minnesota. Under her leadership the group has grown exponentially. She’s been a phenomenal leader, encourager, and, best of all, a friend. She will bring a fun and unique voice to Inkspirational Messages–I’m so glad she’s joining us!

I’ll let Stacy tell you a bit more about herself …

Mike and I just celebrated our 30th anniversary. We now have three kids – two of our own and one in-law. Camry (25) and Nate were married a year ago and just put an offer on their first house. It’s hard to believe that round-cheeked baby girl is soon to be a homeowner! Our son Aaron (23) will finally conclude his college experience with student teaching in the fall of 2012. At 6’7″ he is definitely someone those elementary students look up to! My husband Mike has taught elementary physical education for 33 years. He takes his juggling program (“The Teaching Juggler”) to schools, daycare centers, church programs, etc., all summer long. He’s thrilled to have his own website now: mikemonsonjuggling.com.

Some of our best family memories stem from long car rides – to both coasts, Canada, Florida, etc. As a family, our favorite vacation spot is Lake Tahoe.

For the first time in 29 years, we’re without a pet in our home. After 3 beloved golden retrievers and various cats, we’ve opted to go pet-less for the next few years as we spend more time on the road.

I’m passionate about writing stories that show an extraordinary God at work in the ordinariness of life. I work in community relations in aging services and enjoy speaking and writing about healthy living, life over 50, and the issues of dementia and Alzheimer’s. I’m currently president of MN-NICE (the first ACFW chapter in Minnesota) and am the Minnesota Area Director. I’m also an active member of My Book Therapy Voices, the Minnesota Christian Writer’s Guild, and several RWA chapters.

I’d love for you to stop by my website at stacymonson.com.

Thanks, Stacy! I even learned something new about you today!

To go along with the summer recipe theme, Stacy included a favorite. Sounds delicious!

Berry Clouds

Serves 6

1 package puff pastry shells (6 shells)

½ lb. fresh strawberries (washed, hulled and sliced)

¼ lb. fresh raspberries

¼ lb. fresh blackberries

2 teaspoons sugar + ¼ cup

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup heavy cream

  • Bake shells as instructed on the box. When baked, remove the tops, reserve, and set aside tops and bottoms,
  • Combine the berries and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar. Set aside.
  • Beat together the cream cheese, ¼ cup sugar and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the heavy cream on high until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate until chilled.
  • Fill each pastry shell with cream cheese filling.
  • Spoon berries evenly over cream cheese filling. Top with pastry top and a dollop of cream cheese mixture for garnish.

This is a yummy dessert that is also full of good nutrition including Vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants.

from Recipes from the Heart (Taste of Sunrise, Sunrise Senior Living)

POTATO, POT"AH"TO

What I say is that, if a fellow really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow.

–A. A. Milne

Potatoes are my favorite vegetable, year-round .

Factoids off the top of my head about potatoes: They are tubers. They are laden with starch and carbohydrates. They fit together with butter and sour cream like nobody’s business. Alton Brown devoted an entire episode of Good Eats to the humble potato. At one point in history, the Irish economy was based on potatoes, and when a blight hit the potato, it hit the entire country, starving people to death. Nearby Benton, KY has an annual “Tater Day” to celebrate when area farmers used to bring the potato crop into town to sell. The potato even got newsworthy in the 90’s when our vice president had a problem spelling it. (Darn those words ending with a vowel!). You can bake ‘em, boil ‘em, roast ‘em, fry ‘em, smash ‘em, mash ‘em, garlic ‘em, and cover them with cheese.

Yes, they’re important.

My family has loved potato salad forever, and when warmer weather beckons, we welcome the first batch of the summer season.

Here’s the simple Rudd Family Recipe:

Mom’s Potato Salad

Ingredients:

8 medium potatoes

6 eggs, boiled and chopped

2 large dill pickles, chopped

¼ c onion, diced

1 ½ – 2 cups mayonnaise

Instructions: (remember, I’m just typing it like I would be telling you!)

Cut up your potatoes in ½-1-inch squares. Cover with water to boil. I always put some salt in the water (probably about a teaspoon or more), and a couple of tablespoons of butter or margarine. Boil until cooked, but not over done, maybe about 10 minutes, depending on the potatoes. Drain well when done, and put in a large mixing bowl.

Chop your boiled eggs, dill pickles, and onion. Mix these ingredients with your potatoes, and add the mayonnaise.

Serve warm, or chill and serve cold.

If you like other spices, go for it. My main goal is to not have mustard in my salad, but if you like it, who am I to say “NAY?” Mom sometimes puts ranch dressing for part of the mayonnaise, which is yummy, and I like my pickles tiny, but everyone else likes big chunks. When I was little, it was always sweet pickles instead of dill, but somehow as we got older, dill became the pickle of choice.

So potato salad is important, as I said. My husband and daughters can whip up a batch without a recipe, and it tastes as good as mine and Mom’s

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I came across a recipe on the Internet, via Pinterest. I tried it. We LIKED it, so I’ll SHARE it!

Cheddar and Bacon Potato Salad

Ingredients:
8 medium potatoes
1 tsp. seasoning salt
10 slices bacon, cooked crisp, drained, crumbled
8 green onions, sliced
2 C. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
16 oz. sour cream (light works well)
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 C. mayonnaise
1 tsp. garlic salt

2 tsp. prepared mustard

Instructions:

1. Boil potatoes until perfectly tender. Drain and allow to cool to warm– they shouldn’t be hot enough to melt the cheese.

2. Peel (if desired– I like to leave the peel on) and cube potatoes and place in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with seasoning salt. Mix gently.

3. In a separate bowl whisk together the sour cream, pepper, mayo, garlic salt, and mustard.

4. Add bacon, onion, and cheese to the potatoes. Mix gently. Stir in the dressing mixture.

5. Cover and refrigerate this 4th of July picnic recipe at least 3 hours before serving.

 

And yes, I even left the mustard in this time. If you want a potato salad experience that rivals the best of “loaded baked potato” flavors, this is IT!

Happy Summer, everyone. May your tea have plenty of ice, and your potato salad have JUST ENOUGH mustard – but not too much!

Lunch on the Deck

When a good friend of mine was reading our blog posts last week, she had the audacity to laugh at me! Knowing me oh-to-well, she couldn’t imagine what kind of recipe I would come up with. Well, I make a mean Kraft macaroni-and-cheese if I do say so myself! Sometimes, I even add tuna just for my husband! So take that, Beth!

Okay, okay, I see the rolling eyes out there. Unfortunately, my friend is oh-so-right. My recipe box is mostly empty, and what’s in there is for bland-palated Scandahoovians like me.

But, I do have a secret weapon! A friend of 30+ years who is an exceptional cook. Recently she’s taken to posting her daily “Lunch on the Deck” on Facebook, leaving all her friends drooling.

And problem solved for me! Yah!

So let me introduce you to Kelly Jo Yaksich, my devoted, quirky, and uproariously fun friend and cook extraordinaire, someone who’s completely in love with Jesus!

Welcome to Lunch on the Deck!

This past January, I chose to walk another path set before me. I had just turned 49 and decided that coming around the corner of 50, my life needed some shaking up! I started a weight loss journey that quickly turned into a lifestyle change that soon caught on with my whole family.

I am a mom, born and raised in Minnesota, that was transplanted with my husband and four teenagers to Nebraska. In Minnesota I was surrounded by lakes and rivers and bodies of water. Water sounds calm me. Here in Nebraska I am surrounded by city noises, fake lakes and wind! I needed calm!

So in March, I took drastic measures. I removed the leaves from my dining room table that allowed our whole family to eat inside and announced all meals would be eaten out “on the deck”! I started to put into practice my method of madness by eating my lunches on the deck. I took pictures and posted them on Facebook so that maybe I could inspire others to do the same while keeping myself accountable.

It took a couple weeks, but soon my family began to join me. Now, not only do we eat lunch out there, but every night for supper we head to the “famous deck”! I have had people call to make reservations to eat with me on my deck! I have had friends buy me beautiful planters to adorn my table on my deck! I have even bought prettier napkins to use on the deck! Now my calm comes from the beautiful, simple food I create, the fellowship of family and friends, and, of course, the deck!

Now, won’t you and your family join me for Lunch on the Deck?!

Today’s Menu:  BLT Pita’s, Fresh Fruit, and Homemade Rice Pudding, served with Arnold Palmer Tea!

BLT Pita’s
3 slices of precooked bacon
3 large slices of fresh tomato
1/2 cup of shredded lettuce
1/2 tablespoon reduced fat mayo made with olive oil
1/2 of a whole grain pita pocket
Layer ingredients in pita pocket and enjoy!

Homemade Rice Pudding
1 cup precooked rice (white or brown will work)
3 egg whites
1/2 cup stevia sweetener
3 1/2 cups of 1% milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup of raisins (optional–I don’t like them so I left them out!)
In a two quart casserole, beat the eggs with the stevia sweetener until well mixed.  In a separate bowl, mix the milk and rice well.  Gradually fold into the two quart dish.  Turn your oven on to 300 degrees.

While that is heating up, boil 2-3 cups of water on the stove top.  Take a 9 x 13 pan, and set your two quart casserole dish in there.  Carefully place it in the oven when it is heated up to 300 degrees.  Slowly pour the boiling water into the 9X13 pan until it is about 1″ from the top.  Close oven and bake for 60 to 90 minutes or until knife comes out clean.  Enjoy!

Arnold Palmer Tea
This is a FAVORITE among Nebraskans!!

In one two-quart pitcher pour 1 packet of sugar free lemonade mix (Crystal Light or store brand) and 1 packet of sugar free tea with lemon mix.  Add a couple handfuls of ice and fill with water.  Stir until dissolved.  Serve over ice–goes well with vodka too!  Just sayin’!

Too Hot To Cook

Hello, my name is Shannon and I hate to cook. Especially in the summer. It heats the house up and it’s just too hot to live, much less cook.

Thankfully, my step mother-in-law visited us last year and bought me a grill for my birthday. We’ve put it to great use. My husband grills almost every day. Hamburgers, turkey burgers, steaks, chicken breast, and tilapia. Yum.

Other than the grill, sandwiches rule at our house in the summer. Quick, easy, and cool. Here’s our favorite:

Chicken Salad Sandwiches

8 boiled Eggs

3 generous tablespoons of Miracle Whip Light

¼ cup chopped White Onion

2 tablespoons Heinz Sweet Relish

¼ cup chopped Pecans

1 12.5 oz. can Chunk Chicken Breast (drained)

Stir all ingredients together and salt to taste. Try adding a slice of American cheese on your sandwich. Yum! Really yummy on 9 grain bread.

For quick snacks or even dessert, we love this fruit salad. We call it:

The Pink Stuff

Large box any flavor instant Gelatin (I use cherry)

1 8 oz small curd Cottage Cheese

1 16 oz Cool Whip

4 fruits of your choice, fresh or canned (my favorite combination: 1 can each peaches and pineapple, fresh red seedless grapes and
strawberries)

Blend Cottage Cheese and Gelatin until smooth. Stir in Cool Whip and fruit. If you use canned fruit, drain well. Use sugar free Gelatin and fat free Cottage Cheese if you’re watching your weight. None of my bunch likes Cottage Cheese, including me, but you really can’t taste it, especially if you use cherry gelatin or another strong flavor.

Last summer, I had a writing deadline and we lived on these two recipes. This summer, no deadlines, but they still work. Quick and easy. Hope you enjoy my tasty treats.