Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cajun Chicken Soup

I know it is only February, but this morning the birds were singing.  They must be trying to explain that Spring is on its way.  It is above zero, and there are puddles from all the piles of snow.  Melting snow is a "very good thing"!  

I hope you aren't tired of homemade soup yet.  I realize that winter is drawing to a close, but I wanted to share this yummy one with you before we leave the comfort food behind for awhile.  It is a wonderful recipe with all kinds of "good for you" ingredients.  :)

I found this delicious homemade soup recipe on Pinterest.  It was from Diddles and Dumplings.  

Cajun Chicken Soup (printable recipe)


2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1" cubes)
1 large zucchini (sliced, then cut in half)
3 stalks of celery (chopped)
3 carrots (sliced)
1 onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes
8 ounces tomato sauce
1 tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons cajun seasoning (divided)
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry pasta
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (divided)


Heat 2 teaspoons oil in dutch oven, or large pot, over medium-high heat. Season chicken with 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning, place in dutch oven and brown on all sides. Remove from heat.

Place 1 teaspoon of oil in dutch oven and add zucchini, celery, carrots, onion and garlic. Sautee for 5-6 minutes or until vegetables are just starting to become tender. Add diced tomatoes, parsley, thyme and cajun seasoning and cook for additional 1-2 minutes. Add chicken back to mixture. Add chicken broth and bring soup to a boil.

Once soup comes to a boil, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Add pasta and kidney beans and cover and cook for an additional 30 minutes.

When I made this soup, I didn't have Cajun Spice. So I looked a recipe up online.  There are many.  I made a small batch, just big enough for this soup recipe.

Cajun Seasoning Recipe

2 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
2.5 paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/4 tsp dry oregano
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

This was a real hit in our house...and you really have to take those when you can get them!! ;)

Continue Reading....

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Homemade Pita Bread

I love Pita Bread!  But I'm a bit of a "Pita Princess".
I only like it when it is REALLY soft, and it seems that
the grocery store pitas are only soft for a day. 
I throw out dry pitas all the time.  
Then I found this great recipe online at
Under the High Chair, and gave them a try.
These will be wonderful with homemade soup
~to make sandwiches with yummy fillings
~or dipped in my favorite hummus recipe!
By making my own, I can have them fresh
the very day I need them!  :)

Homemade Pita Bread

1 tablespoon yeast
1 ¼ cup warm water

1 teaspoon salt
3- 3 ½ cups flour
Dissolve yeast in water for about 5 minutes in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add salt and 1 ½ cups flour and with the dough hook, beat to make a batter. Add additional flour until a rough, shaggy mass is formed. Knead 8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour if it is too sticky.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into six pieces for large pitas or ten for smaller. I make all sorts of sizes to suit different snacks and meals. Form dough into balls, then flatten with a rolling pin into ¼ inch thick discs. Try and keep an even thickness as this is what helps them ‘puff’.
Let rest on the floured surface 30-40 minutes until slightly puffed.
Preheat oven to 425F.
With a large spatula, flip the rounds of dough upside down on to a b
aking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes until light golden. Stick around for the first five minutes of baking when the pitas perform their magic and puff up from flat pancakes to proud, four inch high pitas.
These store for up to two days well wrapped or frozen for three weeks.


On the Menu Monday
Continue Reading....

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I love my Mark's Choice Amaryllis that I found
a couple years ago at my favorite
Home Hardware store.  

When it finishes blooming each winter
I cut the bloom stock off.
I leave the tall leaves to
grow throughout the summer.
In September I cut them off about 1"
above the bulb, stop watering it,
and move it to the garage
where it is nice and cool until after Christmas.

This year, when I brought the bulb back into the house after Christmas
I began to water it again and almost immediately 
the leaves began to grow.  
In no time I had 5 tall leaves!
But let's face it...
the leaves are not the exciting part!  :)

Once the bud began to poke up,  
I really got excited.  
This was the end of January.

This pictures shows what it looked like this past weekend.
The bud stock is much taller.  
Very soon I will be enjoying blooms like these ones from last winter!

Wouldn't it be fun to have a collection of these bulbs for the dreary dull winter months?  I think I will find some "friends" for my Mark's Choice Amaryllis.  They can all bloom together next year on top of the piano!  

Do you have an amaryllis?  What color is yours?


Share Your Cup Thurs
Seasonal Sunday
Continue Reading....

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Take 5 with Kathy - "Knowing vs. Knowledge..."

near Chelyabinsk, Russia
The world was shocked on Friday to learn a meteor had exploded close to Russian soil sending shockwaves that shattered windows, knocked down brick walls, and left about 1000 people injured. When fragments pierced the atmosphere plummeting to earth one section fell through an icy lake 80km from Chelyabinsk. As people captured on video the trail of an unknown object as it streaked across the morning sky they were unprepared for what happened next. Suddenly, blinding white light exploded before their eyes and the streak burst into an impressive trail of billowing smoke and fire. Approximately two-and-a-half minutes later a thundering sonic boom blasted the area setting off car alarms, hurling glass shards, rocking the ground, and causing people to cry out in terror. They would have wondered, “What just happened? Did something hit us? Was it a plane exploding? The asteroid? A rocket? A missile?”

That evening I was watching special coverage on TV’s “Daily Planet” of this event and the unrelated asteroid that came close to Earth[i]. In an interview with Mark Boslough, a physicist who specializes in nuclear explosions and the shock waves caused by cosmic blasts that meteors create, he was asked, “Why weren’t we ready for it and are there more to come?”

He indicated that as many professional and amateur astronomers across the world were focused on tracking the path of the largest asteroid ever to pass this close to our planet, this meteor came out of nowhere. While most meteors are detected in the night sky, this one occurred during broad daylight and caught everyone unaware.

Although scientists are able to answer many questions about what happens during such incidents, they are still baffled by a great many “why’s”, “what if’s”, and “how long’s”. As one program host remarked, “The only thing we know for sure is that we just don’t know.”

In discussing the ongoing research around another asteroid that is predicted to come even closer to Earth in 2029, scientists understand that in order to discover answers about how this heavenly body is going to act and what course it will follow they must know it – its nature, composition, and what materials it contains. They likened it to an enemy and said, “You have to know and study your enemy if you want to know how to stop it.”

Hmmmm…all of this got me thinking about the latest lesson I’ve been studying in “Discovering the Voice of God”. Priscilla Shirer says, “Often we seek to know God’s direction more than we seek to know God. We bypass the relationship because we would rather have answers about us. God wants to speak to you because He wants you to know Him; knowing His direction is just a by-product. God seeks to reveal truth about Himself because this knowledge will lay the firm path you can walk to fulfilling God’s purpose for your life.”[ii]

For me to have the knowledge and answers I am looking for regarding the course my life is to follow, I must know the nature and character of God who lives within me. There must be an active and ongoing relationship between me and my Lord. Knowledge about God is not enough. Hearing Him is not enough. I must know Him well-enough that I begin to experience His character living out through me. Only then will I be eager to follow His leading and obey what He is telling me to do. This is when I really begin to listen to His voice and discern that it is Him speaking to me rather than another voice, opinion, influence, or my own desires.

Likewise, for me to recognize the deceitful voice of my spiritual enemy, Satan, I have to do more than just have knowledge about him. I must learn about how he works, his nature, his weapons, and be prepared to use the countermeasures God has equipped me with as a Christian. I don’t know him to be like him but to stop him and destroy his efforts to defeat me.

When Moses descended Mount Sinai to find the Israelites worshiping the golden calf instead of God, he was angry and felt discouraged and defeated. How could he ever lead these people to the land God had promised them? Would God even go with them? He said to God, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If I have found favor in your eyes, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you.” I love God’s response, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:12-14) Later God reassured Moses of many of His attributes giving him the courage to do what God had required of him.

I want to know God – really know who He is and what He is able to do in my life.

Until next Sunday,


[i] Daily Planet, “Fire in the Sky”, February 15, 2013
[ii] “Discovering the Voice of God” by Priscilla Shirer, LifeWay Press, 2006, 2010, page 67
Continue Reading....

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Take 5 with Kathy - "Light dispels darkness..."

our entryway skylight
One aspect I have always loved about our home since moving here six years ago is the abundance of light that saturates it. A three-paned skylight and three large glass-block windows flood the entryway with light regardless of the weather. Tall picture windows in the living room, which is partially open to the entryway, augment this bright airy atmosphere. The open-concept kitchen/dining area/family room features a second skylight, bay window and patio doors adding to the constant good lighting throughout the daytime. While I struggled with Seasonal Affective Disorder in our former home, that hasn’t been much of a problem here.

What I do notice, however, is the marked reduction in light after a heavy snow. The first time this happened here, I walked down the hallway from my bedroom wondering, “Why is it so dark in the house?” I soon discovered the skylights were completely covered with snow blocking significant light from entering. It was an eerie effect which somewhat dampened my mood.

our kitchen skylight
How much different my perspective changed though when the snow began to gradually melt away exposing an exquisite spectacle I would never have seen otherwise! As sunlight filtered through the crystalline designs of snow on the glass, I rejoiced in the beauty God creates in the midst of varying degrees of darkness, dullness, and partial obscurity. This is especially surreal on a clear night as I peer up at the stars and moon peeking in between the frosted sparkling snow patterns.

As I write this (Friday morning), we are expecting a major Nor’easter to begin roaring through tonight and Saturday. With predictions of 35-50 centimetres of snow and winds gusting to 80-100km/hour, I can be certain our home will be darker than usual for a couple days. But, no matter; I know the sun will shine again and eventually the snow will melt away allowing the powerful light of the sun to once again fill our home.

Isn’t that so much like our lives? Some days, I am full of joy and happiness and things are going so well. But suddenly an unexpected email informs me of a friend’s cancer diagnosis and things immediately go dark. As we walk through this with her, tests reveal they caught it early – a ray of light penetrates the darkness. Subsequent tests bring more encouraging news – the mood begins to change and we enjoy an afternoon of singing praise songs, chatting, and laughing together with her daughter and another friend. A few days later, we all lead the worship time during our women’s Bible study morning – God’s Spirit shines through the midst of uncertainty and radiates into the hearts of other women. The powerful light of God’s Son floods our souls!

My life experiences are teaching me that God’s power creates more stunning wonders and surprisingly awesome revelations during times of relative darkness, pain, loss, and insecurity than when things are going really well. For a while, it can be bleak and discouraging and it seems God is far away or silent. But, He never leaves me there. When I trust Him, surrender each day to Him, obey what He shows me in the moment, gradually the warmth of the Holy Spirit begins to melt away the fear, anxiety, hurt, disappointment or whatever else may be preventing the loving comfort of God from filtering into my soul. Over time, I begin to see the way God is shaping something beautiful that reflects His glorious light as He works in and through the happenings of my life.

Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia
Jesus Christ Himself said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12)[i] His disciples discovered this one dark night when they were fishing in the middle of a lake. Struggling at the oars due to strong winds, the men thought they saw a ghost walking toward them and they cried out in terror. “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid,” a voice called to them. Only as the figure came closer did they realize it was Jesus whose light pierced the enveloping darkness. Once He climbed into the boat, the wind died down. (Matthew 14:22-32)

I John 1:5 says, “…God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” It was God who created light out of darkness (Genesis 1:3) and He “has made this Light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” God sent Jesus to give “life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. (His) light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:4-5)

I am so grateful for God’s light which dispels my darkness!

Until next Sunday,


[i] All Scripture is from the New Living Translation
*All photos by Kathy Lai
Continue Reading....

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Take5 with Kathy - "Coincidence or divine arrangement..."

"an old man lost his horse"
There’s an old Chinese idiom which says, “an old man lost his horse”. To a non-Chinese-speaking person this holds no significance and makes no sense at all so I asked my husband, who is Chinese, to explain. As Chinese is a very pictorial language, when young children begin learning it, they must also learn the history behind each idiom. Then when they use the phrase in a sentence they, as well as the listener, immediately understand the context and meaning.  The story behind this idiom goes like this…

“An old man lived near the Great Wall of China. One day his horse ran away. His friends tried to comfort him but the man replied, “Who says this may not be a blessing?”
Sometime later, the horse returned accompanied by several more horses. The friends rejoiced with the man but this time he replied, “Who says this won’t turn out to be misfortune?”

The man’s son, who loved the new horses, rode one of them each morning. As they were still rather wild, one day he fell off and became crippled from his injuries. Again the friends tried to console the old man who replied, “Who knows, this may be a blessing in disguise.”

A year later, war broke out against invaders and many young men were drafted into the army. Almost nine out of ten were killed. Since the old man’s son was crippled, he was exempt from the draft and both survived.

Therefore, a blessing may turn out to be a misfortune and the reverse may also be true.”

Earlier this week I was discussing with the ladies in my Bible study group about coincidences. Are the seemingly random occurrences that appear to be connected mere chance, fate, destiny, or inevitabilities? Or, is there another explanation that confounds statistical improbabilities?

King Solomon pondered such things saying, “The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again…If clouds are full of water, they pour rain upon the earth; whether a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where it falls, there will it lie.” (Ecclesiastes 1:5-7; 11:3)

As a Christian, I believe all things happen for a purpose and nothing occurs by chance. My faith in the Sovereign Lord of the universe allows me to agree with the psalmist, “I know that the Lord is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods. The Lord does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.” (Psalm 135:5-6)

at the dam in our neighborhood
The prophet Daniel proclaimed, “He changes times and seasons; He sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning…He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him, ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 2:21; 4:35)

Proverbs 16:4 declares, “The Lord works out everything for His own ends…”

My faith also allows me to believe that God is a loving God, full of mercy and compassion (James 5:11; I John 4:16) especially for those who trust in His name. I am confident that “in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

So, as in the Chinese story, a good thing may not always turn out in the way we envisioned and a bad thing may actually turn out to be a blessing. The important thing is to maintain a balanced perspective on all things that happen in my life.

As I submit daily to the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life often His ways contradict what I think or feel. Sometimes it doesn’t even seem logical or make sense. However, I’ve discovered that when I am faithful in studying His Word, communicating with Him through prayer, and listening for Him to reveal His will to me I experience a deep peace in leaving the circumstances and apparent “coincidences” in His hands. I know He is totally capable of divinely arranging every detail of my life to accomplish the purposes He has for me.

Instead of mere coincidence, I prefer to perceive it as everything coinciding with the will of God. As the apostle Paul says, “In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will.” (Ephesians 1:11)

Until next Sunday,


*All Scripture from the NIV

Continue Reading....
Pin It button on image hover