Month: August 2015

Sweet and Savory Strawberry Bruschetta Bites

SS Bruschetta Bites

Proceed with caution my friends, this little square can be your best friend or worst enemy.  Entertaining friends or need to make a quick potluck dessert?  You’ll be the hero of the night.  However, if you make this recipe when you’re home all by yourself I cannot prevent you from eating the entire batch of bites by yourself; which*ahem* may have happened one evening in the not too distant past at my house.  Enjoy and remember you’ve been warned.

Sweet and Savory Strawberry Bruschetta Bites
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 30-35 bites
  • 8 oz room temperature, reduced fat cream cheese
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 box of Triscuit crackers
  • 1 quart of strawberries
  1. Plop the softened cream cheese and brown sugar into a bowl and cream together with either a hand mixer or the whisk attachment of your stand mixer.
  2. Rinse and hull the strawberries before cutting each berry into 3 or 4 slices.
  3. Spread a dollop of the sweetened cream cheese on each Triscuit cracker and top with a strawberry slice.
  4. Short on time? Serve the Triscuits, cream cheese dip and sliced strawberries in separate bowls and let you guests build their own Strawberry Bruschetta Bites.


July Bookshelf

July Bookshelf


While this post is dedicated to my July bookshelf I am writing and posting it at the end of August, which is stirring up both happy and humdrum feelings.  Part of me is excited and ready to return to the fall routine since I will officially report back to school next week for professional development and get to meet my kiddos after Labor Day.  Yet, I would be lying if I didn’t mention feeling blue that summer is ending.  (This blueness could be due to the fact that it’s 60ish degrees, rainy, and breezy in Michigan right now and I feel like my pool must be crying.)  It could also be that our schedule this summer was the fullest it’s ever been: seeing great friends, travelling to gorgeous spots here in Michigan, and enjoying our family time, making me both grateful and sad that it’s ending.

Okay, enough pity party, it’s time to rally.  Let’s talk about some books!

The Fortune Hunter is the second book from Daisy Goodwin and was another excellent read.  Many of the same qualities found in the American Heiress make The Fortune Hunter a compelling and engrossing read.  It’s not quite as Downton Abbey-esque, but still gives us a great glimpse into English (and Austro-Hungarian) aristocracy.  This book spoke to the History teacher in me because all three key figures–Empress Elizabeth (Sisi) of Austria, Captain Bay Middleton (a distant relative of Kate Middleton), and Charlotte Baird–actually lived, loved, and interacted with one another in the late nineteenth century.  Goodwin’s writing seems to be a hybrid of pure fiction and the novelish non-fiction writing style of Erik Larson who uses historical documents to construct compelling stories for lovers of both history and literature. Of the two Goodwin books I liked The American Heiress a bit more but I would highly recommend both.  Click here for my June Bookshelf post that includes a discussion of The American Heiress.  

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst is great for any and all of us that feel overwhelmed by commitments to our careers, families, friends, churches…I could go on and on so I’ll stop there and not stress us all out before even talking about the book.  Lysa’s fundamental philosophy is that while it may feel Christ-like to say ‘yes’ to all who ask something of us, we may actually be clogging our schedules and not making time for the ‘best yeses’ that God is directing us toward.  As I read The Best Yes I found myself wholly subscribing to this philosophy and her chapters made the process of discerning best yeses seem practical.  My only critiques would be that some of her case studies seemed a little too simplistic at times and the book itself is about 40 or 50 pages too long.  However, I think it’s a helpful approach to reducing our commitments while not reducing our relationship with God.

The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills was our book club selection for the month of July and I feel obligated to admit that while I (and a handful of others) enjoyed it, the majority of my club was not impressed.  This memoir by a Chicago Tribune reporter chronicles her time spent with sisters Harper and Alice Lee.  Harper Lee seems to be a polarizing figure of late with the publication of Go Set a Watchman, which challenges our altruistic image of Atticus Finch.  While I’ve chosen not to read Watchman, I thoroughly enjoyed The Mockingbird Next Door.  It’s a slow-paced account of Mills’ time with the Lee sisters that left me with an endearing portrait of two extraordinarily accomplished women who reminded me of my own grandmother and her sister who we affectionately referred to as ‘Aunt Dutch.’  If you are a fan of memoirs or To Kill a Mockingbird I think you’ll enjoy it as I did, however my English teacher buddies were also not fans of Mills’s writing style.  I would say to be safe this is a good title to get from the library rather than Amazon.

I am still enjoying Savor by Shauna Niequist each morning and would highly recommend it to those of you looking for a daily devotional that also instills a sense of fellowship as you read.

As always, the foundation of my book pile this month is the First Century Study Bible with notes and articles by my teaching pastor at Mars Hill, Kent Dobson.

Burgers with Tortilla Soup Dippers

Anyone else love Max and Erma’s Chicken Tortilla soup?  It was a favorite of ours, but unfortunately our location closed a few years ago, leaving us high and dry when craving their Tortilla Burger.  Last night I decided to recreate it (as best I could in 30 minutes) and I am happy to say that I am pleased with the results.  Plus it earned the hubby seal of approval, so it was a definite win.

I purposely made a smallish batch because we only needed enough to dip our burgers, but since there were just three of us for dinner last night I had enough left over to enjoy a bowl of soup with my Watermelon & Tomato Salad today for lunch.  If I were going to serve the tortilla soup on it’s own for 4 – 6 people I would most likely double this recipe.  Hope you enjoy!

P.S. To the salad I added mint instead of dill and used white balsamic vinegar this time, yum!


Burgers with Tortilla Soup Dippers
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 - 6
  • 4 - 6 burger patties & buns
  • 1 yellow, red or orange bell pepper
  • 4 - 6 onion slices
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 can of Healthy Request Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 2 cans of chicken (5 oz each)
  • ½ tsp of kosher salt
  • ½ tsp of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ¼ cup picante sauce
  • ⅛ cup salsa verde
  • ½ cup of chicken broth
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  1. While your grill is preheating, add the cream of chicken soup, canned chicken, salt, red pepper flakes, picante sauce, salsa verde and chicken broth to a medium sauce pan. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Once the soup boils, reduce heat to low (stirring occasionally) and simmer (covered) while you grill the burgers and prepare your sides.
  3. Cut the bell pepper into 4 - 6 chunks and the onion into 4 - 6 slices (depending on the number of burgers you're serving.)
  4. Coat the cut up pepper and sliced onion with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Once your grill is preheated, add your burgers, bell pepper and onion, flipping after about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove your burgers, onions and bell pepper from the grill and toast the interior of the burger buns for a minute or so.
  7. Stack each bun with a burger, bell pepper chunk and onion slice.
  8. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in your shredded cheese until it melts. Scoop the soup into small side bowls and present on the plate next to the burger.
  9. Dress your burgers with mustard, mayo, relish, etc. and enjoy!