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Archive for July, 2011


To celebrate today, Kathryn and I made this yummy recipe (from a sweet lady at our church). We had lots of fun doing it together! It is easy and doesn’t take very long. Enjoy!

Creamy Almond Cheesecake


1 3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs

2 Tbsp. sugar

6 Tbsp. melted butter


2 (8 oz. each) pkg. cream cheese

2/3 c. sugar

1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 eggs

2 tsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

Press cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar into a pie pan (or a spring-form pan) and bake at 325 F for 10 min.

Meanwhile, process cream cheese, sugar, and flour in food processor for 30 sec. or until smooth. Add eggs and process 30 sec. Add lemon juice and extracts and process 15 sec. or until blended. Pour into hot crust. Return to oven – bake 30-35 min. Refrigerate uncovered 5 hrs. or overnight.

Optional  berry topping:

2 c. strawberries, washed, stemmed, and halved

1 1/2 c. blueberries

1/4 c. raspberry or blackberry jelly, melted

After cheesecake is cold, arrange strawberries in 2 rows around outside of edge. Place blueberries in center. Gently brush berries with melted jelly. Store in refrigerator.


Notes from Chef Hannah: To make graham cracker crumbs, put the crackers in a plastic bag and beat them with a hammer (but put the bag on a cutting board first so you don’t mess up your counter top!). Be sure to lick the food processor bowl and spatulas. The filling is very yummy! If you use a spring-form pan instead of a pie pan, it takes a little longer to bake.

Smashing the crackers :)The crust is ready to bake!The filling in the food processor

Done!!We like to work together!




Guess what we’re having for lunch today!?!? Be right back

Asian Cuisine Concoctions

Posted by Kathryn



So much has been happening… and we have a whole list of blog posts that need to go up……

But we had to stop here for a moment and give you these simply scrumptious sauce recipes we tried tonight! In a flurry of trying to get dinner for a hungry bunch of people and running into a few difficulties (i.e. missing ingredients Smile), Jessi, Amanda, and I had an absolute blast researching, dreaming, concocting, mixing, and revising them. The final results were a hit! The first one is out of From the Kitchen of Two Sisters cookbook with some of tweaking. We call it Shanghai Surprise Sauce because we didn’t know how it would turn out – – but thankfully it ending up being a pleasant surprise, though not quite like we expected! Winking smile The second one is a delectable replica of a normal Chinese sweet-n-sour sauce that we found on the internet – – contorted to Neely specs as well.  Serve both sauces hot (but separately, of course Smile) over Basmati rice and chicken with steamed or sautéed vegetables on the side. Enjoy!!

Chef’s Notes: You can substitute white rice for Basmati. To prepare the chicken, we sauteed it in olive oil and a little salt. If you have any left-over rice after this meal, serve it for dessert with Cool-Whip and your typical ice cream toppings. Voted by the Neely Team as quite yummy!


Shanghai Surprise Sauce

Start by making soy sauce…

6 beef bouillon cubes

4 tsp. balsamic vinegar

2 tsp. molasses

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Pinch of black pepper

Pinch of garlic powder

1 1/2 c. water

In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together all ingredients. Boil together until liquid is reduced to about 1 cup, about 15 min.

Then add…

1/2 c. olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. minced garlic

2 Tbsp. honey

1 Tbsp. cornstarch – mixed with 1/4 c. water

Bring soy sauce and other ingredients to a boil again on high for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a wire whisk.

Chef’s disclaimer: We have not used the soy sauce substitute in anything but the Shanghai Surprise Sauce, and we even forgot to try it before we added the extra ingredients. Smile Ooops! So, if you try it with something else and like it, drop us a comment.


Sweet and Sour Sauce

2 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch

2/3 c. distilled white vinegar

4 tsp. olive oil

1 3/4 c. unsweetened pineapple juice

1/4 c. ketchup

1/2 c. brown sugar

In medium saucepan over med-low heat, whisk cornstarch and vinegar. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring often. Cook until thick.

A Yummy Zapple Crisp!!

Posted by Lauren



This is a recipe for an apple crisp that uses zucchini. We wanted to find a new way to use zucchini because we have a lot of it. This recipe made it taste just like apples! (Daddy didn’t even notice the difference!! Winking smile Open-mouthed smile)


8 c. zucchini, peeled and cut to look like apple slices
1/2 c. lemon juice
1/2 c. white sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves

Stir together in large saucepan. Cook mixture until soft/like stewed apples (about 10-15 minutes). Pour into 13”x9” glass baking dish.


1 1/3cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup dry oatmeal 
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
2/3 c. soft butter

Stir with a fork until completely mixed and crumbly. Spread on top of zucchini mixture. Microwave on high for 5-6 minutes. Rotate halfway through cooking, and cut through topping in several places to let juices come through. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream. Serves 12-16.

Cook’s notes:
* We chopped our zucchini into bite-size pieces instead of slices. And if the zucchini is really big, scoop the seeds out. One of our zucchini was a big, tough one, over a foot long and really big around (the size we would normally throw in the mulch bucket), but we cut the seeds out, and no one ever knew the difference.
* You can also bake this instead of microwaving it. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
*Light and dark granulated cane juice (Sucanat) can be substituted for the white and brown sugar.

The topping......goes on the filling! :)I love cooking!Two happy helpersThe final product - tasted just like regular apple crisp!!

Enjoy!!!Open-mouthed smile

A Week with the Wilkes Team!

Posted by Amanda



Oftentimes we reach low points in life’s journey – the crossroads of major decisions or the valleys of trial which effect so much of our lives. It has been said that “you are either in the middle of a trial, you’ve just come out of a trial, or there’s a trial just around the corner.” But in between the seasons of tribulation and testing, our kind and gracious heavenly Father is faithful to provide the mountaintops – the uplifting and encouraging peaks which comfort the spirit and refresh the soul.  Such was the week that we recently enjoyed with the Wilkes Team: a mountaintop which allowed us a fresh glimpse of the path beyond, and filled us with renewed vision and fervor to press onward again. From watching and learning about their chickens, to eating fabulous meals, to participating in the Independence Day parade, to having family devotions, to helping weed the garden and paint the barn, every moment was filled with laughter, good conversation, and fellowship. What a joy it is to spend time with likeminded believers! Thank you, Wilkes Team, for your hospitality once again, and for your constant encouragement in our family! We consider ourselves some of the wealthiest people alive to call you our friends! May the Lord return a thousand fold the blessings we have received at your hands!

The poultry yard was quite entertaining!

Our little ones enjoyed playing with the chickens :)The ducks could be quite funny!Maybe that rooster will leave Kenan alone for a little while!Titus - ever the animal lover!IMG_2677

Music, of course, played a part in the week.

Victoria really enjoyed the grand pianoBrother/sister relationships are so precious

There was lots of fun around the various projects…

Getting ready for the paradeThey were SUPPOSED to be cooking.......... ;-)

…and fireworks on Fourth of July were a “blast!” Open-mouthed smile

Mr. Wilkes' favorite firecrackers cause movement to look robotic.... so we had a lot of fun with that. :-DMr. and Mrs. Wilkes plan their 10-second showIt didn't take long for everyone to figure out that Jessi was the queen. :-DGetting ready to pop....Lining up with sparklers for a turn at the lighter

We can’t forget the mealtimes – delightful for more than one reason!

Lots of fresh produce from the Wilkes' garden!IMG_2973ParentsKids :)IMG_3187

And some of our favorite times were helping them with their ongoing projects around the barn!

IMG_2984IMG_3178IMG_2986Some of us painted trim........while others of us painted people! :-D (No, really, they were GREAT helpers!!)IMG_3166IMG_3174

We got some miscellaneous fun shots, too. Smile

Looks like it was a good conversation! ("Babysitting" the neighbor's goats)Yes, that really IS sweat running down his face and spotting his shirt, but he didn't seem to mind.From behind, it was really hard to tell these two apart!We even got them mixed up from the front sometimes! What sweet sisters in Christ!

A few weeks ago we were able to spend several days in Northern VA with our dear, dear friends, the Wilkes Team. One thing we have always appreciated about them is their heart for ministry, whether that be to each other, their neighbors, their community, their church family, or us! We were with them for the 4th of July, and once again they concocted an idea to reach out and minister to those around: through a Family Encouragement Float at the Culpeper Parade!

Keep in mind that none of us had ever done this before. Smile Thus, as it got down “to the wire” and we had only an hour and a half left before it was time to be lining up at the parade, we saw a very obvious manifestation of the Lord’s blessing and what team work can do when the team is of one heart and mind! Lunch had yet to be finished, signs to be made, people to be dressed, candy to be attached to flyers of encouragement, a plan for how the float would actually look to be arranged (kinda important Winking smile), and much more, but all got done in record time as each individual pitched in with their unique giftings and abilities and worked with the joy of the Lord flowing from them! Our goal was to have the float communicate a message of hope and encouragement to families, since they are the indispensible building block of society! As goes the family, so goes the nation…

Our "thinking" committee... :)The washing crew - getting the truck in ship shape!

Aunt Summer did a great job with the small postersBeautiful

Writing 15-foot banners for the sides of the floatIMG_2715

The counsel of godly grandparents is vital to the continued survival of the Christian familyMom and Daniel - getting it "just right"

Gathering for a time of prayer and heart preparation before setting out

We had a traveling orchestra :)Strong marriages are essential

Jenny and Lauren - vibrant testimonies!Another example of a marriage submitted to God, thus making it a radiant one!

Some rode on the float... others walked beside it to pass out the goodies :)Matthew - our chauffeur

Reach out to those around youSpreading encouragement through music

God save the USA!There is JOY in serving Jesus Christ!

IMG_2787Two little light-bearersBuddied up :)

Tomorrow's forefathers...The mothers of the next generation


There is nothing like working together as families to encourage other families! Praise the Lord for holding off the rain for the parade and allowing us the opportunity to reach out to the people of Culpeper! God is good! 

Thank you, Wilkes Team, Uncle Nathan and Aunt Summer, and Grandpa and Grandma Wilkes for including us in your family and letting us be a part of this wonderful occasion!



Ice cream goes great with baked oatmeal and fruit....... for breakfast!!! :D

Gather the family and your favorite toppings… and enjoy!!! Open-mouthed smile


Posted by Jessica



You never know what a day may bring forth. But one thing you can always count on, is the goodness and faithfulness of our Lord! It is because of His mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not; they are new every morning. Great is God’s faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:22-23)

We found this to be particularly true just a few weeks ago. It is a very long story, so we won’t bore you with all the details. Smile

Mom and Dad were on their way out of town for a few days, and we were all enjoying a quiet afternoon studying for the Bible Bee. It started storming, with fierce thunder and lightning, then hail. Obviously, there was nothing we could do about it, so we continued studying. But one precaution we did think of was to have everyone put rubber shoes on. (This we do during lightning storms in case of electrical shock – it was recommended by a friend who was actually struck by lightning several years ago.)

Victoria went to the garage and noticed a funny smell,  but didn’t think much about it. But as she turned to come back in, the kitchen was full of smoke. About this time someone yelled, “FIRE!!” and people came from all parts of the house and gathered on the front porch. It was still storming ferociously, although thankfully the hail had stopped for a while. Amanda called Dad and Mom, who were an hour away, then dialed 9-1-1. She finally got to tell them where we live, despite the brief power outage in the middle of the call.

Soon our driveway was full of emergency vehicles and neighbors who came to check on us. We are very thankful for one neighbor in particular, who allowed us, soaking wet though we were, to sit in his leather interior Jeep during it all.

The firemen searched all over, looking for flames, but couldn’t find anything but smoke – fresh smoke. Attic, bonus room, garage, air handlers, oven… no signs of fire… just lots of smoke. It was probably fifteen minutes before the dryer was checked, and sure enough, that’s where it was.

Dad and Mom got home after everyone had left, and we all jumped into the cleanup process. Everything had to be wiped down. But through it all God’s hand of protection and sovereignty was evident!! “Small” things, like delaying Mom and Dad’s trip so that they were an hour closer to home, and “big” things, such as protecting all of us… we truly serve an all-powerful, merciful, and loving God! May He be glorified!

The damageIMG_2150The black on the wall was only soot - what a blessing!The fire burned through the baseboard, but didn't touch the sheetrock. And down in the hole, flames must have come within inches of the floor trusses and wiring, and there is no damage. Wow. The wonderful cleanup crewThe dryer was full of soot, but it all wiped right out.Hauling waterIMG_2199Bethany helped clean each hanger :-)Scrubbing and wiping....So true!

(And in case you are wondering, both the washer and dryer still work perfectly well and are back in full service.)

Happy 4th of July

Posted by Patrick




We are blessed to have a great heritage handed down to us by great men like George Washington. Here are some quotes attributed to him that reflect his views on two very important subjects:

On Guns:

"Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence … from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good."

On God:

" It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

"To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian." [May 2, 1778, at Valley Forge]

Does anyone still identify with him? Leave us a comment and have a wonderful 4th of July weekend.