Friday, May 25, 2012

SerenDIPity 2012 - Award-Winning Recipes!

Coming in Spring 2013 - The SerenDIPity Book!!

"When you have eaten and are satisfied,
praise the LORD your God..."
Deuteronomy 8:10

My ever-so-sweet and simply beautiful friend LeAnn Rice has invited me to co-post with her today as we dollop our way through dips, friendships, fellowship, hospitality and outreach! (Click here to swing by and visit my friend LeAnn as she shares her inspiration on reaching out through SerenDIPity).

LeAnn surprised me (actually she shocked me and left me speechless) in March when she traveled from North Carolina to my home sweet home in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to be my culinary assistant at our annual SerenDIPity.  LeAnn is a dear friend and her kindness and amazing thoughtfulness have infused my heart forever.  (Click here for LeAnn's surprise visit:  She Surprises.)

What a joy to have LeAnn in our humble home!  SerenDIPity 2012 was extra-special because of LeAnn's serenDIPitous visit.  These magical moments were captured in pictures by a wonderful student photographer Toni Valentini.   (Click here to see pictures taken by Toni from SerenDIPity 2012.)
LeAnn and Me ~ She Speaks 2010

Today, I am sharing the award-winning recipes from this year's SerenDIPity as we dipped the evening away with family and friends.  I so wish your computer screen was scratch and sniff!  Our guests out-dipped themselves and created beautiful and delicious dips!  Here are the prize-winning recipes.  (I seriously think the fruits/veggies, cream cheese and sour cream industries benefit from the SerenDIPity!)

Tastiest Appetizer Dip
Game Day Dip ~ Brought by Penny Woolston
1 pound of sausage
1 8-oz. package of cream cheese
1 can diced tomatoes
Cook sausage with sliced onion and drain.
Melt cream cheese into sausage.
Drain tomatoes and add to sausage.
Serve warm.
Best Presentation (Appetizer Dip) 
Tzatziki Dip ~ Created by Lucille Osborn
(visit Lucille's culinary site here:
 16 oz. sour cream and/or Greek yogurt
1 large cucumber, shredded, squeezed dry
1-3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
Fresh parsley, minced
Combine all ingredients.  Flavors will develop if allowed to sit overnight.
Keep refrigerated.  Serve with your choice of dippers.
Best Warm Appetizer Dip
Cape Cod Lobster Dip ~ Brought by Erika Gill
My dear friend Erika wants you to know that 
she hangs her head in embarrassment...
she purchased the dip mix at the shore.
It's a shame she can't remember the name...
it was DIPlicious! (Love you Erika!)
Most Original Appetizer Dip
Tony Toma's Homemade Onion Rings and Dipping Sauce
~ By Tim and Kathy Bires
OK folks...our amazing friends Tim and Kathy Bires
made homemade onion rings and dipping sauce that rocked the par-tae!
Since I don't have a picture of their presentation in a trio crock pot,
here is a picture of them!!!
Onion Rings:
6 white onions
1 cup milk
3 egg beaters
2 cups pancake mix
Slice onions cross-wise and separate into rings.
Combine milk and eggs (and salt to taste) in mixing bowl.
Soak onions in mix in frig for 30 minutes.
Place pancake mix in shallow bowl.
Heat oil in skillet to 375.
Dip soaked onions in pancake mix and brown in oil.
Drain on paper towels.
Put rings in loaf pan or 9X13 pan and bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes.
Turn out onion rings on plate

Dipping Sauce:
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1-1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 garlic salt
1/4 tsp onion salt
Combine all ingredients in pan and whisk on high heat until smooth.
Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 35 minutes until slightly thick.
Serve warm and enjoy!

Most Original Dessert Dip
"Me Love Cookie Dough" dips ~ Made by Lynne Reichenbach
 Monster Cookie Dough Dip
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup oats (regular or quick)
1 cup miniature plain M&Ms
1 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
Mix cream cheese, butter, vanilla and peanut butter until smooth.
Stir in brown sugar and powdered sugar, mixing well.
Next fold in oats, candy and chocolate chips.
Serve with pretzels or graham cracker sticks.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar, slightly packed
1 tsp vanilla
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

In medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar.  Whisk together over medium-high heat until sugar has dissolved, about 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract.  Set aside and let cool.  If you are in a hurry, put in freezer for 15 minutes.  In the meantime, cream together the cream cheese and confectioners sugar for 1-2 minutes.  Slowly pour in the butter/sugar mixture.  Beat on medium/high until the mixture is combined and not separated.  It may take up to 5 minutes.  Stir in the chocolate chips.
Serve with graham crackers vanilla wafers, animal crackers.

Tastiest Dessert Dip
Key Lime Dip ~ Brought by Kristin Steenbakkers
 1/4 cup key lime juice (add more to taste; Kristin used more)
2 8-oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
1 can condensed milk
1/4 cup sugar
Whip cream cheese, add lime juice sugar and then milk until it's all light and flaky like a thick frosting.
Kristin also stirred in some lime zest.  
Serve with graham sticks, vanilla wafers or fresh fruit.

Best Presentation (Dessert Dip) ~ Cookie Dough Dip
by Deb Barnhart

And we gave one special serenDIPitous prize away this year!  We didn't tell our guests about this prize in our invitation, but any guest who used a scripture with their dip won a Serendipity Bible!  We had a winner ~ our lovely friends Steve and Deb Barnhart!  
"He that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast."  
Proverbs 15:15

Woo Hoo!

AND HERE IS A SURPRISE FOR YOU!!!!  Leave a comment and let us know if you would consider having a SerenDIPity as an outreach to your neighbors, friends or family!!  You will win a SerenDIPity Bible and also one of LeAnn's books ~ "Untangling Christmas"!!!  I will also send you a packet of sample invitations, voting cards and other helpful items I have created to host a SerenDIPity!!

Share your great ideas with us too!  The winner will be announced next week!

Thank you for visiting!  It's been a DIPlight to have you here!

In my next post, I will share the dip recipes LeAnn brought with her to share with me from some of my southern girlfriends.  Can you guess whose dip is called "Mississippi Sin Dip"? 

""O  LORD...
You still the hunger of those You cherish..."
Psalm 17:14

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tying The Knot For 20 Years!

 "Two are better than one...
and a threefold cord is not quickly broken."
Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12
Our Wedding Day ~ 5/23/92

Twenty years ago today, Jim and I tied the knot of a marriage covenant before the Lord. It was a gorgeous day, a beautiful and meaningful ceremony and a fun reception.  

Recently, we sat with our children and watched our videos from the ceremony and reception.  Jim and I cried as we watched the ceremony and laughed as we relived the reception.  Wondering why we haven't watched the videos more often as a family, we vowed to do it at least annually.  Joshua and Gabrielle loved watching the videos and even asked us to have another wedding ceremony and reception.  So, this being our 20th anniversary, we are considering renewing our vows sometime in the near future.  How special it would be to have our children stand with us as we renew our wedding vows before the Lord.

Renewing marriage vows.  

Tying the knot daily.

Tying the knot initially and making that promise to each other before the Lord is foundational.  And 20 years of marriage has shown me that tying the knot and keeping it tied is a daily, moment-by-moment decision.  Choosing to honor the Lord and my husband are choices I have to make daily.  Keeping my feet to the warm fire of God's Word is essential.  Jim choosing to love me as Christ loves the church is a daily surrender and choice for him.  (And wow...I think the husbands have the more difficult assignment!)
Jim is a wonderful husband and excellent father.  I have intrinsic respect for him and love him deeply.  But we are both sinners.  And when two sinners say "I Do", marriage is still hard at times.  Keeping the knot tied everyday with the Jesus as the perfect One in our threefold cord is how we will enjoy many, many more decades of marriage together.  

So we choose to tie the knot daily, to cleave to one another and let Jesus' perfect love bind us together as a threefold cord.  As we celebrate 20 years today, I am humbly thankful to the Lord for His mercy and grace in giving me Jim.  Truly, the Lord lifted me up and placed me on the right and blessed path for life with Jim as my best friend, my favorite brother in Christ, my husband, my helpmate and the father of our children.

" The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places..."
Psalm 16:6

I love and respect you Honey!  Happy 20th Anniversary!
I still do!  And always will!

"Place me like a seal over your heart."
Song of Solomon 8:6
"Many waters cannot quench love,
rivers cannot wash it away."
Song of Solomon 8:7

Monday, May 21, 2012

Overwhelmed With Love!

"And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience.
Overwhelm them with appreciation and love."
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

(Isn't this a fabulous cake???  Thanks to my dear friend Heather!)

(This post is written to honor the amazing, godly women in our Gather and Grow Bible Study group.)

Overwhelmed with appreciation and love.  That's an understatement.  Let me share with you how I was completely overwhelmed in March.

In 2007, the Lord put it on my heart to host and lead a Gather and Grow Bible Study group.  After prayerfully following Biblical truths to reverently begin a Bible study, the Lord brought together a group of amazing women to worship, study His Word, pray and fellowship.  

We gather in His Name.  We grow in His Word.  

God is faithful.  God alone brought and still brings the growth.

"So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything,
but only God, who makes things grow."
1 Corinthians 3:7

Though the group has changed a bit each year according to the Lord's perfect design, God has blessed our Bible study and has knit together these sisters in Christ.  They seek Him.  They pray for each other.  They minister to each other in tangible ways.  They reach out and welcome others.  They minister God's love and share the Gospel in their communities and beyond with their own unique God-given gifts.

(Actually I was shocked!)

A few months ago, these lovely women surprised me at my sweet friend Jen's home with a brunch at which 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 was their theme scripture.  Overwhelmed with appreciation and love??  Truly, that doesn't even begin to say how my heart felt and still feels. Their love, appreciation, encouragement and blessings were a perfectly-timed gift from God.  Overwhelmed indeed.  Tearful and speechless, I received their love and blessings with humility and deep gratitude.
Sweetly hushed and humbled by His amazing love.
The girls gave me two very special gifts.

These generous women gave me two gifts:  a beautiful scrapbook (put together by my dear friend Erika) and a Pandora charm bracelet.  Each girlfriend wrote something personal to me in the scrapbook about how the Lord uses the Gather and Grow Bible Study to change their life and heart through His Word.  Each of the twelve charms chosen for my bracelet by these wonderful women had a particular meaning, each of which was beautifully written out in the scrapbook:   Bible, Wife, Home, Sun, Rose, Cinderella's Coach, Heart, Pineapple, Leopard, Breast Cancer Awareness, Snowflake and Aloha.  

These gifts are treasures I will cherish forever.   I often read through my scrapbook and touch each charm on my bracelet.  When I am discouraged, the love and encouragement these gifts represent lift me up. The Gather and Grow girls could not have given me two more perfect gifts.  I am so thankful to the Lord.

"For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."  Matthew 18:20  ~ God blesses each of our hearts individually and as a whole as we gather together to worship, study His Word, pray and fellowship.
"...honor those that fear the Lord."  Psalm 15:4

As I honor these amazing, godly women and girlfriends who are so generous in their love, friendship and giving, I want to give a gift as well!  My sweet friend Jen who hosted the brunch at her home has been given a talent from God for making unique and stunning jewelry.  Her business is called Bezalel Jewels.  "See the Lord has chosen Bezalel...and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts -- to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship.  And He has given Bezalel...the ability to teach others."  Exodus 35:30-34

Inspired by her girlfriends and sisters in Christ in Gather and Grow, Jen designed this "Woman of Virtue" pendant.  To honor the awesome Gather and Grow women, I am giving away one of these Woman of Virtue pendants hand-crafted by Jen!!!  Here's all you have to do:  Pop on over to Jen's site at Etsy and take a look around. Come back here and leave me a comment to let me know which piece of jewelry really appealed to you.  On Friday, I will announce the winner.  (And Friday is another special give-away too!)
"Woman of Virtue" ~ Designed and Hand-Crafted by Jennifer Roche

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching."  Hebrews 10:25

Gathering and growing in Him ~ it's what we are meant to do as Christians.  As God leads and blesses Bible studies, He builds lasting, meaningful, fruitful, iron-sharpening-iron friendships.  Today, I honor the women with whom I have had the privilege to Gather and Grow!  "...honor those that fear the Lord."  Psalm 15:4 

"Kings' daughters are among Your honorable women."
Psalm 45:9

Updated Friday 5/25/12 ~ Winner of the Woman of Virtue pendant is "Pauline~myheartGodshome"!!  Congratulations Pauline!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Happy 10th Birthday Gabrielle!

The king is enthralled by your beauty;
honor him, for he is your lord.
Psalm 45:11

Manicured fingers climbing courageously up a rock wall.  Irish step dancing toes clicking down the flag football field in between plays.  A glittery pink tee in the midst of blue-shirted neighborhood boys on the basketball court. Silky curls peeking out of a helmet as she gives a dirt bike a whirl for the first time.  A sweet voice singing worship songs as her body swings back and forth on the monkey bars.  Pretty hands playing the flute one minute and clapping to Toby Mac the next.

That's our Gabrielle.

She has always been a beautiful blend of delicate yet strong, soft yet bold, tender and courageous, sensitive and tenacious.

Gabrielle keeps it real.  She loves deeply, and she cares with a tender heart. She is passionate and discerning.  

At the age of 10 months, she stubbornly wanted to feed herself in her highchair.  Determination.

At the age of 10 years, she still tenderly treasures our reassuring bedtime routine.  Sweet sentimentality.

We are celebrating a decade of Gabrielle today.  We are thankful to the Lord for her vivacious life.  

Yes, the waves of pre-tween-ness have already been washing up on our shore, and I know this momma needs to honker down and stay anchored in God's Word in order to serve my sweet daughter well as her mother during these next several years. {Oh, Sweet Jesus, I need You!}

As I look back at her first decade, I am very aware that this next decade's joys and challenges will be very different.  But there are a few things that always remain the same and on those I rely:  God's perfect love and His perfect wisdom and His perfect Word.   Needful and thankful for all of His truths that are my foundation, I am humbled and honored to be Gabrielle's mom.  She inspires me.  She loves me.

Happy 10th Birthday, Gabrielle!  We love and adore you!  You are a treasure to Daddy, me and Joshua (and Holly too)!  May you always honor Jesus and abide in Him.

For we are God’s workmanship, 
created in Christ Jesus to do good works, 
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10