Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Baked Oatmeal with Vanilla Cream

Our church has a Saturday seminar about once a quarter and very often we host them at our house (which I love)!

We had our last one a few weeks ago, and I served baked oatmeal for breakfast! 

If you've been scarred by gloppy, questionable oatmeal, put that right out of your mind! Baked oatmeal is a delight...kind of like a thick, soft, oatmeal cookie for breakfast.



It works great as a meal for a group. 
  • You can mix it up the night before, so you aren't rushing around like a crazy person in the morning!
  • If your guests offer to bring something, you can divvy out toppings. 
  • It's super versatile by changing up the toppings! You can do fresh berries, chocolate chips, craisins, raisins, coconut, diced apples, almonds, pecans, walnuts, bananas...really anything your little culinary heart desires! 
  • It's easy to make gluten free by using gluten free/not gluten contaminated oats.

Baked Oatmeal
adapted from Savoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites

3 cups rolled oats (old fashioned oats, not quick oats)
3/4 cup brown sugar (I think you could go down to 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons kosher salt (a little less than 1 teaspoon if using table salt)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted (very often I use 1/4 butter and 1/4 cup applesauce)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, butter, vanilla, and eggs. Add your liquid ingredients to your dry ingredients, and whisk to combine.

Pour into an 8x8 or 9x9 inch square baking dish that you've lightly sprayed with nonstick spray. You could even get edgy and use a greased deep 9 inch pie plate.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown, and it is baked through. 

If you mix it up the night before, you can cover it and put it in the refrigerator overnight. When you bake it in the morning, put it in the oven while it preheats. You'll need to add 5-10 minutes to the baking time. 

Serve warm with a generous splash of milk and toppings.

It's also suuuuuper easy to whip up some vanilla cream instead of using regular milk!


Vanilla Cream
just something I threw together

1 part of heavy cream  
3 parts milk (I have 1% milk in my fridge) 
vanilla extract to taste

So, that's like adding 1/4 cup heavy cream to 3/4 cup milk. You can make as much or as little as you need using something around those proportions. I shake in some vanilla extract and stir it up to combine. I taste it and see if I need more vanilla. It's always best to start with less vanilla than you think you'll need and add a little more as needed.


The other nice thing about baked oatmeal is that it reheats well! You can make a big batch at the beginning of the week and have some for breakfast each morning.

And as an extra bonus, everyone at my house likes this!

That's a win in my book!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Weekly Highlights

It's been a pretty big week in church planting world!

We are super excited that we were able to lease an incredibly cool building downtown. The address is 90 Main Street and if you're even half as nosy as I am, you can click here to take a cool little tour of the building! The tour thing was made by the previous tenants; the owner of the photography store did a TON of work to the space!

Our first Sunday in our new space is March 11th!

Anyway, I thought you might be curious what a week in church planting looks like from my perspective!




A few notes before beginning:

  • I did/do things that I purposely didn't document because not everything in my life should be documented on the mighty internet. Those things are important and life giving (meaning I'm not hiding things that are hard) but just not for the consumption of the general public.
  • I do some things that I would do whether or not we were planting a church! You and I probably do some of the same things on a weekly basis.
  • This week had more "big things" than usual.
Sooooooo, first up: Sunday!

We have scones for breakfast on Sundays! Gracie would eat scones for breakfast every day, but we have to have limits on some things in the world ;) I mix and portion scone dough and then freeze them! I bake them from frozen, so I'm not a crazy scone making person on Sunday mornings.


Why scones on Sunday? I read something once about a pastor's family that let their kids eat dessert first on Sundays as a sort of grace to them. And, our daughters have no idea that there has been somewhat of a stigma about pastor's kids...they like that their dad is one of the pastors and that they have first dibs on helping in the nursery. But, we want to offer them a special sort of grace on Sundays when they are sharing their mom and dad. They don't know that's why we have scones on Sunday...which is kind of the point!

I greeted on Sunday, so this was my view from the back:


Yeah, we're back row sitters.

Gracie and I went grocery shopping on Sunday afternoon...and, let me tell you, Aldi is a ZOO on Sunday afternoon.


I usually grocery shop on Monday (because it's a zillion times less busy), but I wanted to get a head start on the week. Also, Gracie needed to get out of the house :)

After movie night and putting the girls to bed, I went to a worship team meeting where we tried out some new songs to see which ones we should add to our rotation.


I felt weird taking a picture of people practicing, so I took this awkward picture of my foot and the treat Becca made instead!

Monday:

After I dropped the girls off at school and went to the gym, I came home and made some meatballs


The meatballs are baked, but I put them in the slow cooker after they were baked to keep them warm for supper. That worked out great and it thickened the sauce a bit. Totally a win!

We had a small group leaders meeting for supper. Instead of planning a regular meal, we did appetizers! People brought their favorite appetizers and it made for a fun meal!


It's so nice that the girls are getting to be old enough to watch the little kids so we can have an essentially uninterrupted meeting. They took the little kids to play downstairs while the adults talked about how we're doing, how the groups are going, and had a time of prayer.

Tuesday:

We celebrated our two year Dubuque-iversary (in other words, we moved to Dubuque 2 years ago)!


We saw the movie Peter Rabbit and really enjoyed it! There were lots of funny comments and slapstick physical comedy which is totally my jam (I'm kind of like a middle school boy who thinks there is nothing funnier than someone unexpectedly falling)!

The girls wanted to go to Applebee's to eat, so we went and got a bunch of appetizers to share. It was quite possibly the most mediocre food we've ever paid cash money for, but it was super fun to go together. OK, it was plain fun. Some of the girls were hangry and emotional, so it had its ups and downs. But, that's life!

Wednesday:

We had supper and a meeting that was open to everyone at church, so it was a pretty full house! I made a baked chicken alfredo that was really good! People signed up to bring the rest of the meal.


Becky Morrow Entertaining Pro Tip: buy a big disposable pan when cooking for a crowd! I quadrupled the recipe, so using one enormous pan was way easier than using four 9x13 inch pans. You just have to add time to heat it all the way through!

Thursday:

I volunteer in Maggie and Gracie's classes on Thursdays. This is definitely something I would do whether or not we were planting a church. I've done this since Leah was in 4K. I love getting to know their teachers and classmates! Also, I have this incredible amount of respect for teachers...they work SO hard and care SO much. I'm happy to do what I can to make their day the tiniest bit easier!


Note: I reeeeeeally lucked out with my visitor tag up there. You have to have your drivers license on record at the school to come in. The first time I registered, I still had my Wisconsin license which had a good picture on it. In Iowa, you aren't allowed to show your teeth in your photo. I'd been practicing and practicing a pleasant, toothless smile in anticipation of my driver's license. But, I started to laugh when they took my picture and quickly closed my mouth. Consequently, my driver's license picture is a mess and I look like there is something seriously wrong with me. My Wisconsin license picture is what got stored in the school's system, and I'm thankful for that every week!

I do fluency practice with the 3rd graders which is really fun! I enjoy talking to them one at a time. And, for what it's worth, I don't think any of them knew what a "damsel in distress" was. Even the best readers stumbled on it!


Kind of funny :)

Anyway, so that was a lot of stuff from my week! I'm always a little curious about how others go about their day to day life, so I hope you enjoyed that peek into mine!

Also, we'd love it if you wanted to join us on Sunday! We start at 10:00 and have nursery available for kids age 4 and under!

Monday, March 5, 2018

February Updates

In case you're having a hard time coming up with a movie to watch for movie night, a fun recipe to make, or are a bit curious about the goings on at the Morrow house, here are some ideas and updates!



Recipes I Made and You Should, Too:
Dark Chocolate Granola: This is dessert granola that you somehow feel virtuous eating!
Greek Chickpea Salad: This was really simple and good! I'm making it again this week. It held up really well in the fridge all week and had awesome flavor!
Chicken Bacon Ranch Sliders: Leah chose this as her birthday dinner! It's totally a crowd pleaser, super easy to make ahead of time, and you can get all of the ingredients at Aldi! Win-Win-Win!

Movies We Watched for Movie Night:
The Emoji Movie: I'm not going to lie, this was better than I anticipated! To be fair, the bar was really low (I'm talking ankle height), and I was pleasantly surprised that it exceeded my expectations! I thought it was funny that the twitter bird was kind of a character :)

Cool Runnings: It was Olympics season, so we were obligated to watch it, of course. A little bit of language and unkind talking but not bad!

Return of the Jedi: The girls liked this! I remember watching it in the theater when I was little. It's probably my favorite of them all, but to be fair, it's probably the one I've paid the most attention to :)

The Incredibles: We'd only seen bits and pieces of this one and really enjoyed watching the actual whole thing! The second one is coming out this summer!

Dolphin Tale: We've seen this before and it's good! I like feeling triumphant and dolphin loving at the end. Also, Aaron made a lot of Harry Connick Jr. jokes under his breath, so that made the movie extra enjoyable for me!

Leah turned 12


I mean, raise your hand if that makes you feel old?! I see that hand ;)

We got her some clothes from Old Navy, the Nike headband pictured above (that's ALL the rage at the middle school), two books by one of her favorite authors, and this paint by sticker book.

She liked and has used everything, but her favorites, by far, have been the headband and the sticker book. That sticker book is legit and I pretty much want my own!

Leah's cake was all lemon all the time!


I made the cake from this recipe and the frosting from this recipe. I put this lemon curd in between the layers and on top. I would have chilled the frosting a big before using it, because it was a little runnier than I prefer for piping, but the flavor was excellent!

For the words, I put plastic wrap on a cookie sheet. Then, in a bowl, I melted some finely chopped white chocolate (not white chocolate chips). I put it in a zip lock and snipped the tiniest bit off of one of the bottom corners. I piped the words onto the cookie sheet and then stuck in some toothpicks. Once the chocolate hardened, I carefully pulled it off the plastic wrap! Not as fancy as buying something at the store, but still pretty and fun! 

Anyway, there are some bits and pieces from our February! I hope yours was great, too!

I have a post all set to go on Thursday with some fun church updates, so be on the lookout for that!

Have an awesome week!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Favorite Things Party

I hosted a super fun Favorite Things Party last week!



I've read about Favorite Thing Parties before and have always wanted to host one, but I wasn't quite sure about how to organize one for a decent sized group of people! 

I reached out to Julie (who wrote the first blog I ever read) on instagram, because she had posted about a party she hosted for a group of women. She was super sweet and gave me some great tips and ideas!

So, here's the gist:

  • Each guest thinks of something she loves or is super useful to her. 
  • She brings 4 of the same thing that costs between $5-7. So, each person is spending between $20-28. 
  • She comes to the party with her unwrapped favorite thing.
  • Each guest talks about her favorite thing, why she likes it, where she got it, etc., and gives out 4 of her favorite thing to 4 different people.
  • Eat treats and hang out!
Here's how it played out at my house!

As each guest arrived, they got a little packet:


There are 4 slips of paper and a list of favorite things. Each guest wrote her name on the slips of paper and put them in a bowl. Then, she filled out her list of favorite things that varied from favorite animal, favorite Winter Olympic event, favorite vacation spot, etc.

Once everyone filled out their papers, we got settled into the living room for the exchange! I actually didn't take any pictures during the evening, because I was busy enjoying the people!

Not everybody knew each other, so we started out by going around the circle and having everyone say her name and one of her favorite things from the list. 

I got us started by sharing about my favorite thing (these cutie little scissors to keep in my purse and a couple of these pens) and then drew 4 names out of the bowl. If I would have drawn the same person's name twice, I'd put the duplicate name back in the bowl and redraw! That happened a few times, and it was no big deal.

Julie recommended that as a person's name was drawn, she could share one of her favorite things from the list. This slowed down the drawing in a good way and kept it from feeling like a raffle. It was also a fun way for people to find out things they had in common!

Leah, Maggie, and Gracie hung out in the living room and Maggie kept an adorable Favorite Things Data Table! She couldn't be any cuter!


And, of course there were snacks! I served hummus, pretzel thins, and carrots, raspberry white chocolate cheesecake, and some addictive popcorn that Becca made!


And, yeah, I bought flowers at Aldi for the evening! I walk past the flowers all the time but picked some up this time because I thought they'd add something spring-y! I got the flowers 5 days ago and they're still going strong.

Steph helped me decorate sugar cookies as a party favor!


I packaged them up 2 to a bag, and then forgot to hand them out to the first several people who left. Oops :) And, yes, they are even yummier than they look!

So, wanna see what I got?


  • The Angry Mama: Yeah, I almost bought this for Aaron for Christmas, but, yeah, I came to my senses and realized that The Angry Mama isn't on the top of the gift list for any man. I can't wait to try this out!
  • Candy and Poo-Pourri: OK, I think poo-pourri is equal party hilarious and practical! The giver of the poo-pourri got it at Menards not Amazon, so I'd imagine it was cheaper!
  • Adorable Tiny Spatulas: Oh my gosh, I love the little spatulas for scraping things out of cans and bowls. These are dishwasher safe which I love even more!
  • Password Sign: I can't wait to put this up in our guest room! Super practical and cute!
  • Tiny Scissors and Sharpie Pens: Yep, that's what I brought. I mean, is it just me, or do find that you fairly often just need a scissors when you're out and about?
The Favorite Things Party made for such a fun evening! I feel like we need something fun to spice up our dark, cold Iowa winter, and this was just the thing! I can't wait to host another one next winter!

Oh, and here are three of my legit, absolute favorites:


Love those girlies of mine!

Have a great week!