What joy the gospel gives me. I can approach the throne of God with confidence, not because I've done a good job at my spiritual duties, but because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. ~ C.J. Mahaney

Chicken Artichoke Pasta

True to form, I made my recipe-blogging comeback a few days ago by posting something sweet-- namely the Carolina Coffee Cake.  Now,  for anyone wanting a simply delicious, mouth-watering main dish, I share this Chicken Artichoke Pasta.  

I think marinated artichoke hearts are truly delectable.  Honestly, I could eat a whole jar of them myself--
That is, I could if I were able keep my children out of them while I attempted to do so.  That would only happen if I sneaked off to a closet somewhere quietly, which I'd never pull off.  For real.  We're seriously addicted.  I put them in salads, usually.  But they are great in many dishes.   I buy them at Aldi and they aren't terribly expensive there.  Wow, I could take a significant rabbit trail right here...

Do you love Aldi?  Oh my goodness.  I love that store for so many reasons.  OK, I'll just chase this rabbit for a minute.  First of all, they have top quality food.  Their prices are the lowest in town.  I can park nearly at the door.  I waste absolutely NO steps, which for me is a major plus.  I would rather clean toilets than go grocery shopping.  So for me, easy in/easy out is paramount.  

There is a slight learning curve involved in shopping at Aldi.  When they moved to my town a couple years ago, I did a little research and learned a lot about shopping there.  You need to know what they carry and what they don't.  Basically they have studied the market and stock the several thousand items most shoppers buy, typically only one type of each product, mostly carrying their own label. They search the world over to find the best products and the lowest prices and pass the savings on to you.   You get to bag your own groceries, and you have to pay with cash or a debit card.  No coupons, so don't worry about getting caught behind the Coupon Queen with her fist full of magazine clippings.  The fact that you "rent" the cart for 25 cents means that the carts are returned to the store and Aldi isn't paying attendants to retrieve them.  Neither are the carts being destroyed by the elements or banging into cars in the parking lot.  All these reasons, and the very small real estate foot print, add up to big savings for the shopper.  

Oh, and if you ever don't like something you have bought there, which has happened to me about twice, you just return it and they give you a refund and replace the product with something similar.  A 200% guarantee.  Works for me.

Sorry...back to the topic at hand.  My family loves this casserole, which bakes up quickly in a 400 degree oven in just 30 minutes.  I'm not going to pull any punches...this baby is loaded with fat and calories...lots of cheese, cream soup, and sour cream.  So you're going to probably want to pair it with a massive salad, like I do.  Just have a heaping pile of greens and a small portion of this casserole if you're watching your waistline.  Not digging in for seconds will be a real challenge, I'm just warning you.

I substituted elbows for the bow ties because I roll with what I have in my pantry.  Undoubtedly, the bow ties would make a better presentation, so I'd use those if I were preparing this dish for company.  Served with a spinach salad and bread sticks, I had some very happy diners at my table!

Chicken Artichoke Pasta

  • 3 cups cooked diced chicken
  • 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained, cut up
  • 1 teaspoon minced dried onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 (10 1/4 oz.) can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 sour cream
  • 1 13oz. can evaporated milk (or whole milk)
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 12oz. package bow tie pasta, cooked 
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
Mix all ingredients reserving 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and 1 cup cheddar cheese.  Place in a greased 9X13-inch baking dish.  Sprinkle parmesan and cheddar cheese over the top.  Bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees or until hot and bubbly.  Garnish with paprika and parsley if desired.  Makes 8-10 servings.


Carolina Coffee Cake


I woke up this morning craving coffee cake, so I grabbed the recipe for one I had been meaning to try for a few months. This fun-to-make coffee cake comes from my sister-in-law, Beth.  I admit that the name Carolina struck my fancy.  Anything with the word Carolina in it has to be good.  The children and I had a great time mixing this up for breakfast.


Start by creaming the butter and sugar.


My mixer is kaput, so I just went at this by hand with a wooden spoon.  Great upper arm workout.


Mix in a couple eggs.  These are fresh from my friend Kim's chickens.
That part makes me smile every time.


Next in goes the milk.  This milk is fresh from my friend Kim's cow.
Still smiling...


Stir in self-rising flour and 1/3 cup chopped nuts.


Spread into a greased and floured 10" iron skillet.  Now you can start putting together the topping.  Oops, minor set back.  I discovered I was out of brown sugar.  


Not a problem, really. Did you know you can make your own brown sugar in a pinch by blending some white sugar with a few teaspoons of molasses?


OK, now we can mix up the topping....butter, flour, cinnamon, and brown sugar.


Sprinkle that all over the top.  Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.


Put your bowl lickers to work while you clean up.

Bowl licker #1 still in her jammies, complete with bed-head.
Bowl licker #2, all dressed and ready to get the most out of this day.


All done!

Carolina Coffee Cake

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 3/4 cup self rising flour
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs and milk.  Stir well.  Stir in flour and nuts.  Spread batter in 10" greased, floured iron skillet.  Mix up topping in a separate bowl.  Sprinkle over the top of the cake batter.
Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes.  Cool a little before cutting.


We enjoyed eating outside while the birds warbled wake-up melodies. There's nothing as lovely as an al fresco breakfast on a warm, spring morning.  

Have a beautiful weekend!


Boy Time


Tomorrow will be four weeks since we came home from China with our new son.  While I've occasionally updated my Facebook friends during that time, I haven't yet posted an update to my blog.  For that I apologize.

When I look back over the last four weeks I just stand amazed at God's mercy and grace.  Everything that should have been difficult hasn't been.  The greatest challenge has been the language barrier.  Not that we haven't become champion players at charades; we have.  While he is beginning to use some English words, for the most part, Caleb still tries to speak to us in Chinese.  And to the best of our ability we attempt to understand what he is saying.  Thanks to Google Translate and their amazing program which will speak Chinese words to him, we've been able to communicate some rather difficult concepts.

For instance, last weekend was Brad and Hannah's wedding.  In the days preceding the wedding, it occurred to us that we had better give Caleb a heads-up about what was going to happen.  So we typed in things like "wedding",  "many people",  "much food",  "share your toys", etc.  He would listen intently and nod knowingly.  When all the strangers started arriving, he seemed to take it all in stride.  He is an extrovert; he loves people and activity, so he was right in his element all weekend.

Which brings me to the next point.  Caleb is unbelievably resilient.  Emotionally, he is very stable.  Not once in the six weeks we have been with him has he dissolved into tears or thrown a temper tantrum.  That is not to say he hasn't been frustrated, for most certainly he has been from time to time.  He just deals very well with stress.  He has cried on a couple of occasions where he has hurt himself--falling from the swing, or something like that, but never out of anger.  In fact, I can honestly say I have never seen him get angry.

One night after we did some Google translating, he did get tears in his eyes.  We believe he was just sad from all the changes and from missing everything familiar to him.  It happened once in the four weeks he's been home.


He is getting along with the other children very well.  Maggie is, of course, his near-constant companion and they are doing so well together.  For my little prissy girl, playing hard with a very active little brother is a major change.  She plays cars and trucks and trains, runs around outside, swings, digs in the sandbox, you name it.  Sometimes she wants some time alone, understandably.  At those times, she goes into her room and closes the door for a while.  Caleb understands that it's her down time and he leaves her alone, for the most part.


Most afternoons Caleb will come to me, pointing and gesturing.... "Ni, wo."  (you, me) Then he points up a few times.  What he wants is for me to come upstairs to his room with him.  He will play by himself, but he prefers for someone to be with him.  So I usually take my book or magazine or Kindle and make my way up the stairs behind an excited little boy.  He fluffs his pillow and clears away a few bears to make a place for me on his bed.  After I lie down, he carefully tucks me in with his blanket, props a bear by my head, and generally makes sure I'm surrounded with comfort before he commences his play.


I love this routine.  Today he played a while, then he came over to me, grinned the biggest grin, retucked my blanket, and planted a huge kiss on my cheek.

My heart melted.

For the 920,448th time in six weeks.