Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nutter Butter Brownies

Yesterday afternoon, moments after school got out I sent Y a text:
"You got a smile on your face and a skip in your step?"
"Hahahahahaha Yes!" was his reply.
An hour previously, despite the no cell phone rule in school, curiosity got the best of Y as his dad sent him a text saying:
"Call me if you want to hear some good news."
Y called his dad and received good news and was thus headed out of school with a smile on his face and a skip in his step.
Yesterday- doors were opened.
I’ve always told my kids that opportunities are expanded when you do the right thing by God. He will open doors for you.

Strangely enough, we've recently been a little worried about Y and how he was feeling about his senior year. A few nights ago we had discussed with Y the fact that he had been looking tired lately. We worried that he wasn't content with the immanent opportunities before him. He tried to assure us he was fine and that his fatigue was simply because he thinks he's having another growth spurt. We agreed as parents we would revisit this conversation with him again soon...

Days later, after a door was opened, I think we are all feeling better about near term opportunities.

Last night as I was headed down the hall to bed after encouraging Y to do the same, I hollered out "Woot! Woot! Y did awesome on the ACT!"

Unexpectedly awesome!!- Just like these brownies. I think it’s the crunch and the perfect pairing of peanut butter and chocolate. Oreo brownies are quickly becoming the most often requested brownie for me to make for people. These are very similar with just a different cookie and frosting choice. I've been thinking for months that I should try these so today I did.

Nutter Butter Brownies

Make a pan of brownies as outlined here.
For the 12x17 size pan, frost cooled brownies with 1 ½ cans of canned chocolate frosting. (Honestly, I prefer to use 2 brownie mixes in a 10 x 15 pan and 1 can of frosting.- adjust with what you have/like best.) Cut 1 package of Nutter Butter Cookies into small pieces. Gently press the cookie pieces into the wet frosting. Heat ½ cup creamy peanut butter in a quart size freezer strength Ziploc for 10 seconds in the microwave. Snip the corner and drizzle atop the cookie pieces. Gently heat remaining 1/3-1/2 can of frosting (or use 2-3 1.55oz. Hershey bars) in a quart size freezer strength Ziploc bag. Clip a small hole in the bottom corner of the bag and drizzle the frosting over the peanut butter layer. Let set. Cut and serve.

Y has spent sometime today exploring scholarship offerings -already guaranteed.

As an earthly parent, I get to relax a bit tonight and watch a kid - who has worked hard, had plenty of character building experiences and has served his God well- be happy. And -have some fun contemplating opportunities through the open doors all while munching on these unexpectedly awesome brownies.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jamaican Jerk BBQ Chicken Pizza

Today is the second game for my daughter’s 7th grade volleyball season. Her first game was just two days ago. W was driving straight from work to the home team’s gym in a nearby town. I had Y as my navigator and we were expected to arrive about the same time. W texted “At the gym”. I took a wrong turn, glanced at the clock and noticed my heart race a bit. We would be close to not making it on time. I had tried in the past few days to find out from J where she settled in amongst her teammates. She assured me she wasn’t good enough to start but she didn’t think she was the worst one on the team.
I knew what it was like to be the worst. My mind flashed to my rookie volleyball season. I recalled the first day of practice where we were told to serve 25 times and record the number we successfully got over the net in the coach’s notebook. Volleyballs were flying every which way in the gym that day. Half-way through I had yet to make any over, yet I knew there would be many of us with low numbers based on the direction the balls were flying off the sides of server’s hands. I had served 20 times, all unsuccessful attempts. I was bound and determined to get my last five over. Unfortunately I did not. I sullenly wandered over to the grade book to record my 0. I scanned the numbers written before me and saw mostly high numbers. Tears immediately blocked my vision and my heart pumped nearly out of my chest as I resolved to tell the truth and scribble a sad 0 in the book.
A few minutes later, I took another wrong turn just as W sent another text. Y read the text out loud. “She’s starting…”
“What?!?” I screeched as I U-turned over the curb and onto a sidewalk- all four wheels. I screeched into the parking lot, took the buses only lane short cut to a parking space and moments after parking, and locking looked at Y and said “RUN!” We both sprinted leaping over curbs, bushes and perhaps even a small child or two all while trying to navigate which exterior door would lead us straight to the gym. We entered the gym at a whistle- the first whistle signaling the initial serve. We glanced at the scoreboard- 0-0. We made it! We high-fived each other and took our seats next to W at the top of the bleachers to settle in and watch J play her first volleyball game.
Several rotations in, it was her turn to serve. My heart raced a bit even though she didn’t look nervous at all. She actually had put forth descent effort this summer in preparing for the season. The $20 Wal-Mart net we purchased was strung across the basketball court. W, Y and I took turns shagging balls for her as she worked on serving.
My dad had done the same for me the summer before my sophomore season. I had decided in June that when I showed up for volleyball try-outs the next fall, I would be serving overhand successfully. My goal was to get 50 serves over every day. The first several weeks, the task had taken me hours each day to try and complete. I had strung a rope across an area of the lawn from a second story window to a tree at the edge of the lawn. I looked over my effort and decided the sag created about the right height of a volleyball net. Grandma and Grandpa came for a visit later in June. Grandpa watched as diligently served every evening to meet my goal. Grandpa went to town and worked for hours the next day to install a real net set in concrete. It was beautiful. I spent a lot of time there that summer. I would often only be half-way done with my goal when Dad would return from work. He would shag balls for me as they careened every which way.
J had practiced all summer. The referee whistled her to serve. I held my breath. Her serve successfully cleared the net and entered play. I sat back, enjoying the opportunity to watch my daughter play her sport that she is truly loving.
I didn’t quite exert that much effort this summer on my new recipe for Jamaican Jerk BBQ Chicken Pizza- but almost. Y had fallen in love with it at California Pizza Kitchen. I went with him once to taste “the best pizza ever”. I thought the ingredients on top were a little sparse. So I load mine up considerably more. Celebrate dutiful efforts today and make this pizza:

Jamaican Jerk BBQ Chicken Pizza

Jerk Chicken Pieces
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast grilled, or cooked on stovetop
1-2 teaspoons jerk seasoning (depending on how spicy you want it)

Caribbean Sauce
1/2 cup taco or chilli sauce
½ cup BBQ sauce
3/4 teaspoon jerk seasoning
Cook on low heat, simmering for several minutes.

Prep for the Pizza
pizza dough- purchase at favorite pizzeria or make your own
Caribbean Sauce
1 cup+ shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup diced red and yellow peppers
1/4 cup diced red or green onions
1/4 cup crispy bacon pieces
Jerk Chicken pieces

Pizza Assembly

Use a spoon to spread the Caribbean sauce to within an inch of the outer edge of a stretched pizza dough.
Distribute ingredients to within 1/2-inch of the outer edge of the pizza.
Distribute Jerk Chicken over the sauce.
Distribute mozzarella over the chicken.
Distribute peppers over the mozzarella.
Distribute onions over peppers.
Distribute bacon over the onions.

Bake at 450 degrees in your oven or on a heated grill (I heat the grill then turn off the burners on the side I place the pizza on. The burners on the other side stay on and keep the grill cavity warm enough) until ingredients are hot and cheese is melted.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cowboy Cookies

I recently received an email from my eldest who is serving a two-year LDS mission. He is only a few weeks out of the Missionary Training Center where he spent nine weeks learning Spanish. He is serving in Salt Lake City, Utah and has been entrusted with the responsibility to teach and minister to several communities there. There are rewarding times, and some hard times. He wrote, “Sister McPherson came to the rescue! I love her to death! She brought me some cookies!”
I believe without a doubt angels are among us. They help bear us up when times are tough, when we struggle a bit, or when loneliness or heart ache sets in and tries to stay for awhile. Sometimes these angels are our neighbors, our friends, a family member, or even a perfect stranger.
Sometimes our kind smile, warm greeting, loaf of bread, or plate of cookies offers much more than we realize.
Sometimes… we are someone else’s angel.
We took a family trip to Portland, Oregon to get the clothes B needed to prepare for a mission. We also stopped in at the Nike Factory Outlet- because we always do…A few blocks away is a fabulous corner bakery. I can’t remember the name of it, but I remember how tasty their Cowboy Cookies are. This recipe is close… sort of.
Have a little extra time? Mix up some of these cookies and just maybe you’ll be an angel- just like Sister McPherson.

Cowboy Cookies

1 cup shortening (Butter flavored Crisco)
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
Stir in:
2 eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla
Add at once and stir:
1 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Soda
2 cups quick oats
Stir in:
2/3 cup shredded coconut
2/3 cup chopped nuts
1 ½ cups chocolate chips
Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

Find someone who would benefit from you sharing.