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Easter Cookies

Easter Story Cookies

To be told and baked the night before Easter

 1 cup pecan or walnut halves, to be broken          

Pinch of salt

1 tsp. vinegar                                                            

1 cup sugar

3 egg whites                                                               

½ tsp cream of tartar                                               

Adhesive tape

1 Bible

 Wash and dry hands. Gather above ingredients. Preheat oven to 350o and lightly grease two cookie sheets (or cover with baking parchment).

Place nuts in a re-sealable bag. Give participants wooden spoons (or a rubber mallet) and let them pound the nuts into small pieces. Set aside. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by soldiers. (Read John 19:1-3)

Let each helper smell the vinegar. Then measure 1 teaspoon into the mixing bowl. Explain that while dying on the cross, Jesus was thirsty and soldiers gave Him vinegar to drink. (Read John 19:28-30)

Separate the eggs. Add the whites to the vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. (Read John 10:10-11, 28)

Sprinkle a little salt into each person’s palm, and let each one brush it off into the mixture. Then they can taste their salty palms. This reminds us of salty tears shed by those saddened by Jesus’ death. (Read Luke 23:27)

So far, the ingredients aren’t very appetizing, but now sugar and cream of tartar are added, and you must trust that these will produce a pleasant result. Explain that the sweetest part of this story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He makes it possible to know Him and belong to Him. (Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16)

Beat with electric mixer on high speed for 10 to 20 minutes or until stiff, glossy peaks form. Point out the pearly white color, the color of purity in God’s eyes for those who have been cleansed from sin by Jesus’ death. (Read Isa. 1:18 and 1 John 3:1-3)

Fold in nuts. Drop rounded teaspoons of the mixture on the cookie sheet. Explain that each mound resembles a rocky tomb like the one in which Jesus’ body was placed. (Read Matt. 27:57- 60)

Place the cookie sheet in the preheated oven, close the door, and turn the oven completely OFF. Hand each participant a piece of tape to secure the oven door. Explain that Jesus’ tomb was sealed. (Read Matt. 27:65-66)

Time for bed! Explain that we may feel sad and disappointed to leave the cookies in the oven with the door closed. Jesus’ death seemed final to His followers, and they were in despair when the tomb was sealed. (Read John 16:20 – 22)

On Easter morning, open the oven door and give everyone a cookie. Point out the cracked surface of the cookies, and then take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter morning, Jesus’ followers were amazed to find His tomb opened and empty. He had risen! (Read Matt. 28:1-9)

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Italian Tiramisu Cheesecake

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This gorgeous, easy cake is wonderful for holidays!

Ingredients:

  • 24 lady finger Italian cookies
  • 12 Oreo-type sandwich cookies
  • 1 tsp finely ground espresso
  • 1.5 cups brewed espresso (6 T separated out)
  • 8 T butter, softened
  • 36 oz. name brand cream cheese, warmed to room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. heavy whipping cream
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 packet of white chocolate instant pudding mix
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder (OR)
  • 1 bar dark chocolate for curls
  • Baking parchment
  • Spring-form pan
  • Cake pan slightly larger than spring-form pan
  • Larger pan for water bath

Instructions:

First, preheat oven to 350 and line a 9″ spring-form pan lined with parchment paper (place a round piece on the bottom and a long strip along the sides).

Step 1: Prepare the Crust

  1. Finely grind the sandwich cookies, lady fingers, and espresso powder in a food processor.
  2. Add melted butter and pulse until fully mixed.
  3. Press mixture down onto the parchment on the bottom of the spring-form pan.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and set aside.
  6. Turn oven down to 320

Step 2: Cheesecake Filling

  1. Beat 32 oz. of the cream cheese, butter and sugar in an electric mixer until smooth. Stop mixing a few times to scrape down the sides .
  2. Add eggs one at a time while mixing.
  3. Add 6 T of the prepared espresso, vanilla extract, and then flour, scraping down as needed.
  4. Pour half of the cheesecake mixture onto the crust in the spring-form pan.
  5. Dip the lady finger cookies in the remaining espresso and line them up to form a single layer over the cheesecake mixture, cutting to shape as necessary.
  6. Pour the remaining cheesecake mixture on top.
  7. Place in water bath – use cake pan under spring-form pan (to keep water out) inside large, deep pan filled partway with warm water.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes at 320 degrees. The middle of the cheesecake will still be a little jiggly.
  9. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake reduce temp in the oven for 45 minutes.
  10. Remove it from the oven and let it fully cool on a counter top.
  11. Refrigerate overnight.

Step 3: Whipped Topping

  1. Beat the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Chill in refrigerator while preparing the remaining ingredients.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the remaining cream cheese, milk, and pudding mix until completely smooth.
  3. Stir the chilled whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until it is fully combined.
  4. Place mixture into a piping bag with a large tip, such as Wilton 2A, and then decorate the top of the cheesecake.
  5. Dust the top with powdered cocoa (OR)
  6. Shave on chocolate curls.
  7. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

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New Release by Kathryn J. Bain!

cover-takeherbreathaway-4Kathy Bain is a writing critique partner of mine, and she’s just released a new spellbinding novel in her Lincolnville Mystery series, called Take Her Breath Away. Here’s an interview we did to celebrate its release:

Mary: What prompted you to write Take Her Breath Away?

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Kathy: My Lincolnville Mystery series came from an idea because of Toby Keith’s song “God Love Her.” I liked the idea of the Bible on the motorcycle, it just took off from there. In Take Her Breath Away, my lead characters, Ty and Rayleene, were two minor characters, married to each other, from previous books. In the last book, it was announced they were separated. This is the story of them working their way back together. 
Mary: How do you come up with your gripping story ideas?
Kathy: I get them everywhere. In my first Lincolnville Mystery, Matthew, my hero, keeps a secret from the heroine, Lydia. The idea of the secret actually came from a news story in NE Florida. (Love Law & Order’s “ripped from headlines”). An officer stopped two guys on a motorbike. The driver of the bike was pulling something from his pocket, and the officer shot and killed him. Turned out to be a bag of marijuana. In my book, things were a bit different, but the gist of the news story is still there (innocent man killed by officer).
Mary: Which one of your characters in the Lincolnville Mystery series would you say is most like you, and why?
Kathy: Oh, my, that’s a hard one. Age-wise, it’d probably be BJ, the heroine in One Last Breath, only because she’s retired and I’m 55. Personality-wise, I would have to say Sheryl is probably the closest. She uses humor a lot, yet inside she’s not as secure as she portrays. (You’ll find out more about that in the fifth and final Lincolnville Mystery.)
Mary: Which authors have most heavily influenced your writing style?
Kathy: I love Terry Blackstock and Dean Koontz. They both have spiritual aspects in their books. Ms. Blackstock writes Christian novels and Koontz, while not a Christian author, is a Christian man, so he puts aspects of that in his books. They also like a lot of suspense.
Mary: Is there a message you want to get across to your readers?
Kathy: I seem to use forgiveness a lot. Not just God forgiving us, but us forgiving ourselves and each other. Sometimes it’s easier to believe God forgives our past sins than it is for us to forgo the guilt of our pasts.

Take Her Breath Away is available here.

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Spring! A Few Favorite Springtime Quotes

springtime_tulips

I’m so thankful for spring! Where I live spring comes early – crocuses and daffodils popping up in February, sometimes even late January. My seven year old daughter Megan says she likes spring because the flowers bloom and there are Easter Egg hunts on Easter. And since Easter is my favorite holiday of the year because our Lord arose on that day, this is always a joyful time of year for me. I hope it is for you as well.

And so we should have a few favorite springtime quotes:

“In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.” – Mark Twain

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.” – Pablo Nerud

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” – William Shakespeare

“The front door to springtime is a photographer’s best friend.” – Terri Guillemets

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“The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.”

– Song of Solomon, 2:12

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Author Spotlight – Kathryn J. Bain!

Image of Kathryn J. BainTonight I have the privilege of introducing you to another one of my fabulous writing critique partners, award winning author Kathryn J. Bain! Kathryn’s sixth book, The Visitor, was released on October 14. Her awards include the Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Award and the Royal Palm Literary Award for Inspirational Fiction.

After being President of Florida Sisters in Crime from 2010-2012, Kathryn is currently the Public Relations Director for Ancient City Romance Authors. Kathryn has also been a paralegal for over twenty years and works for an attorney who specializes in elder law. Whenever any of the rest of us in our group write a crime scene, it has to pass muster with Sergeant Kathryn!

Kathryn grew up in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. In 1981, she moved to Boise, but it apparently wasn’t far enough south, because two years later she headed to Jacksonville, Florida and has lived in the sunshine ever since.

Product DetailsThe Visitor:
What you can’t see can kill you!

 When Christine Westman bumps against a stranger in a Jacksonville supermarket, he gives her only one month to live. A killer moves into Christine’s walk-in closet and watches her nightly preparing for the day of her death. Can Christine survive when midnight hits and The Visitor comes calling?

Beautiful Imperfection:Product Details
Would God bring her through cancer to die at the hands of killer?
When witnesses to a mass murder start dying, breast cancer survivor Teddy Federline must push aside her anger and trust an ex-boyfriend to ensure she lives long enough to testify against the killer.

Detective Sloan Michaels still has deep feelings for Teddy but realizes that after the way he left her years ago, he has a lot of making up to do. Now, he must keep his focus on the case and off the woman he loves. If Sloan doesn’t keep Teddy safe, he’ll never get a second chance.

I thoroughly enjoy critiquing Kathryn’s stories – mainly because I never have a clue what’s going to happen next, and she’s a master at drawing out suspense! All her books can be found here. Don’t miss any of them!

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My favorite D-Day Tribute

May our nation never forget the sacrifices made for our liberty. Here’s my favorite tribute.

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A Valentine’s Day Romantic Remembrance

A Promise KeptThis Valentine’s Day, I’d like to talk about a man who truly cherished his wife. His name is Robertson McQuilkin, former missionary to Japan and later president of Columbia International University. At the age of 58, his wife Muriel was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. During the course of the next two decades, Robertson resigned his position and cared for her with such tenderness and affection that it can truly be said that Muriel was a cherished wife. Their story is told in this book, A Promise Kept, which says, “Sharing lessons learned from his own marriage, Robertson McQuilkin shows how weakness generates strength, servanthood births freedom, joy is found in a promise kept. For anyone who has ever loved.”

He writes, “In the summer of ’95 Muriel’s right hand went limp – the first major decline since she lost the ability to stand and feed herself eighteen months before. A little loss, you would think, but I shed a few tears. It’s almost like part of me dies with each of her little deaths. That precious hand, so creative, so loving, so busy for me and everyone else. But it wasn’t just the old memories. That right hand was the last way she had to communicate. She would reach out to hold my hands, pat me on the back when I hugged her, push me away when she didn’t like what I was doing. I missed her hand. Memories, sweet and bittersweet.”

My prayer is that we all  would learn to love as this man did. In our increasingly self-centered culture, it’s such a joy to know of people who devote themselves to God and family, and who love with selfless, tender care. springtime_tulips

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