Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

Cross

“…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

With the winds of Good Friday blowing through my thoughts today, my eyes are turned to the cross. The cross, that most brutal and shameful of death instruments, became beautiful and redeeming. It was there that our perfect savior literally became sin for us so that we might become children of God.

Sin is ugly, destructive, and leads to death. It is hard to think about and even harder to admit, but our sin separates us so far from a holy God that nothing we can do or say is powerful enough or pure enough to reconcile us to Him. Our best efforts to save ourselves fall much too short. We need someone to bridge the gap, someone who can bring us to God and speak on our behalf and plead our case. We need a Savior.

In sacrificing Himself on the cross for us, Jesus became our Redeemer. He became that good and perfect sacrifice which paid our sin debt and gave us another chance with God our Father. It doesn’t make sense, really. And I’m continually confused and amazed and almost unbelieving that He would do it for a sinner like me. And yet, in His great love, He walked the road to Calvary, struggling under the weight of the cross and the sin that He carried. And He gave His life to purchase mine.

He became the founder of my faith.

It is too good to imagine, and yet it is Truth. And what’s more, He didn’t leave it at that. He knew that in my weakness I would fall away. Though He gave His life for me, I would choose to let other idols slip into my focus. He knew that I would be just like Israel, following one day and turning away the next. I would vow my devotion to Him, but continually be caught up in the things of the world. He knew that He would have to sustain me.

He became the perfecter of my faith.

The absolute relief that comes from His sacrifice is that none of it is about me. My salvation comes from His work, and His alone. He reached out to me and made me His own when I could not and would not have come to Him on my own. And He does it again and again as I go through life.

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand.
All other ground is sinking sand.

#CamryBold Giveaway

So, remember a few months back when I told you about the Toyota Camry campaign called #CamryBold? They sent us on a fabulous #CamryBold weekend, and we took an old classic and made it new again. The purpose of the weekend was to highlight the bold changes Camry made to its 2015 model. They were gracious enough to let us drive a Camry for the weekend so we could tell you about it, and we fell in love. I’d been an SUV girl for so long, hauling around all the stuff you have to haul around when you have kids. But now that my girls are a little older, we feel like a huge SUV is a little too much car for us. We never could let go of the Camry idea, and a few weeks ago we went down to see our friends at Hoover Toyota. They fixed us right up, and we are now zipping around town in a new 2015 Camry.

Camry

The Camry was about 1/3 the cost of my big SUV. My gas bill has gone from about $400/month to about $100/month. My insurance is so much cheaper. And parking is no longer an issue for me!!! I never could get the hang of getting a huge SUV into a parking space on the first try. There is plenty of trunk room for us to throw book bags and soccer bags and grocery bags in the back. We are loving it and so far, we haven’t missed our big SUV one bit.

Camry

Here’s the really cool reason I wanted to tell you about our Camry love: The folks at Southeast Toyota have given me a couple of $1000 vouchers to give away to two of my readers who are planning to purchase or lease a 2015 Camry before 4/30/2015. (Depending on how much your car costs, that’s enough to pay around 2 car payments or 4 months of a lease!!!) Offer applies to the lease or purchase of any new Toyota vehicle in FL, GA, AL, SC or NC. Offer valid for you or any member of your household. Limit one rebate per household. Offer expires 4/30/15. This offer is non-transferable. Offer can be combined with other offers.

To be entered for the random selection of winners, just leave a message on this post. We will choose two winners on Friday, March 27, 2015. Please, please, please only enter this drawing if you are planning to purchase or lease a new Camry before then. Otherwise, you’d be taking $1000 from somebody who can really use it, and that just wouldn’t be very nice, now would it? :) Best of luck to you all!

Building and Remodeling Expo 2015

Spring is just starting to peek it’s head out in Birmingham, and that means home building and renovating is just around the corner. You’ve probably already noticed the increase in the number of houses for sale, and that’s because spring is the #1 time of the year for the real estate market. Along with that peak comes an increase in the number of people getting their homes in shape after a long, damp winter. If you find yourself in the market to redo a few things around the house, you don’w want to miss the 2015 Building and Remodeling Expo going on this weekend at the Pelham Civic Center.

When it comes to building and/or remodeling, there are so many choices of contractors and subcontractors in the Birmingham area, that it can be overwhelming. The Building and Remodeling Expo is a terrific way to meet and speak with professionals in the construction industry BEFORE making expensive mistakes on who you choose to do the work. You will be able to visit with contractors, as well as professionals who provide flooring, countertops, cabinets, siding, bricks, roofing, pest control, appliances, lighting, and iron and glass work.

The Building and Remodeling Expo is going on this weekend, Friday, March 20-Sunday, March 22. The cost is $7, but I have a half-price coupon for you. Just print it out and bring it with you to receive entry for only $3.50.

Just like last year, I’ll be there with the B-Metro Magazine team telling you about all the great products you can find at the Expo. Be sure to follow along with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can also follow B-Metro on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Building and Remodeling Expo

Lemon Dill Aioli

Lemon Dill Aioli

There is nothing better in this world than a pan of piping hot roasted oven fries with sea salt. And there is nothing better on those oven fries than a good sauce. Last night we’d had enough of the meat and three meals, so I roasted a pan of sweet potatoes and a pan of sliced red potatoes, both coated in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. I made a batch of Creamy Sriracha Dipping Sauce for the sweet potatoes and a bowl of Lemon Dill Aioli for the red potatoes. My stars, I think it was the best meal we’ve had in ages.

This was the first time I’ve made aioli, and it was super easy and so, so delicious. The lemon and dill work perfectly together, and they set off the taste of the roasted oven fries in a way that might bring a tear to your eye.

All you’ll need is about a cup of mayonnaise, 1/4 cup of lemon juice (I used bottled this time around, but fresh-squeezed would be great, too), 1 tablespoon grainy mustard, 1 tablespoon dried dill, and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder. Mix them together, let it sit for a minute so the flavors get to know each other, and serve it up. So easy. So delicious.

Lemon Dill Aioli

Lemon Dill Aioli is also commonly served on grilled fish like salmon, but it would also be terrific on chicken or beef. It’s a good all-purpose sauce.

Hope you guys enjoy it!

 

Lemon Dill Aioli
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup of mayonnaise
  2. 1/4 cup of lemon juice (I used bottled this time around, but fresh-squeezed would be great, too)
  3. 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
  4. 1 tablespoon dried dill
  5. 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Mix ingredients together, let it sit for a minute so the flavors get to know each other, and serve it up. So easy. So delicious.
The Hill Hangout http://www.thehillhangout.com/

Hot Chocolate Mix

Hot Chocolate Mix

We’ve been fighting off snowy weather for the better part of two weeks around here. Schools have had late starts more than regular starts lately. Today’s weather called for 2″-4″ of snow, so there’s not a school around in session today. I do think some places north of us are getting a little dusting, but so far, we haven’t gotten the first snow flake.

Anytime it’s cold outside, my girls want a big mug of piping hot chocolate. For years, I’ve bought Swiss Miss or some other national brand, but I’ve always wanted to make my own. Fortunately, Mary Anneliese was game for making the homemade hot chocolate today. After a little searching around on ye olde interwebs for some ideas, she landed on a combination that was natural, inexpensive, and delicious. The good thing about this hot chocolate mix is that the dry mix stores beautifully in an air-tight container. When you’re ready for a warm cup, just warm a cup of milk in the microwave and stir in the dry mix. Voila!

You’ll need 1 3/4 cups sugar, 1 cup cocoa powder, and 2 teaspoons salt. Mix with a whisk and store in an air-tight container. I used a mason jar, and it worked perfectly. When ready to make a cup of hot chocolate, warm a cup of milk in the microwave for 1 minute. Stir in 2 tablespoons of hot chocolate mix for each cup of milk. And, of course, no cup of hot chocolate is complete without a big dollop of real whipping cream.

Enjoy and stay warm on this cold, winter day!

Sausage Pastry

Sausage Pastry

We’ve been making Jonathan’s Sausage Pinwheels for years around the Hill Hangout. They are one of our go-to breakfasts. We probably make them about once a week, and for whatever reason, that job has always fallen to Jonathan. He’s more patient about spreading the filling on the dough than I am, and he’s a better roller-upper than me. A few weeks ago, however, one of our friends brought a similar dish to Sunday school but it was baked in a pan. I’m not sure why I never thought about how much easier that would be, but it was my first introduction to Sausage Pastry.

To make Sausage Pastry, you’ll need:

1 roll of breakfast sausage, browned and drained
2 cans of crescent rolls (You can use the new non-perforated sheets, but my grocery didn’t have them.)
1 8-oz block of cream cheese, softened
1 8-oz block of cheddar cheese, grated

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, and roll out one can of crescent rolls to form the bottom crust.

Sausage Pastry

Brown, crumble, and drain the sausage. Return it to the warm pan. Mix with cream cheese to make the filling. Spread the filling over the crust dough.

Sausage Pastry

Cover filling with the grated cheddar.

Sausage Pastry

Make a top crust out of the remaining can of crescent rolls.

Sausage Pastry

Bake on 350 degrees until top is slightly golden, usually about 15 minutes.

Sausage Pastry

Slice into squares to serve.

Sausage Pastry

This one is a crowd-pleaser, so you can feel good about taking it to church, school breakfasts, or even as an appetizer.

Sausage Pastry
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Ingredients
  1. 1 roll of breakfast sausage, browned and drained
  2. 2 cans of crescent rolls (You can use the new non-perforated sheets, but my grocery didn't have them.)
  3. 1 8-oz block of cream cheese, softened
  4. 1 8-oz block of cheddar cheese, grated
Instructions
  1. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, and roll out one can of crescent rolls to form the bottom crust.
  2. Brown, crumble, and drain the sausage. Return it to the warm pan. Mix with cream cheese to make the filling. Spread the filling over the crust dough.
  3. Cover filling with the grated cheddar.
  4. Make a top crust out of the remaining can of crescent rolls.
  5. Bake on 350 degrees until top is slightly golden, usually about 15 minutes.
  6. Slice into squares to serve.
The Hill Hangout http://www.thehillhangout.com/

Chicken Piccata

Chicken PIccata

Chicken Piccata has always been one of my husband’s favorite dishes. The tart lemon, salty capers, butter, and white wine are the perfect combination of flavors. We typically serve it over pasta, but you can also serve it with homemade mashed potatoes or roasted potatoes.

One thing to remember about Chicken Piccata is that it cooks quickly. It really helps to have all of your ingredients laid out, and even have it measured out if you can.

Chicken PIccata

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup flour
Salt and Pepper
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 3 lemons
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 box pasta
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon dried chopped parsley

Boil water for noodles.

Melt butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a skillet. Mix flour, salt, and pepper together and dredge chicken in flour mixture.

Chicken PIccata

When butter is melted and sizzling, reduce heat to medium and fry chicken for about 5 minutes on each side. (Frying time for chicken will vary depending on thickness. Be sure to cook chicken thoroughly.)
One thing to remember about Chicken Piccata is that it cooks quickly. It really helps to have all of your ingredients laid out, and even have it measured out if you can.

Chicken PIccata

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup flour
Salt and Pepper
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 3 lemons
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 box pasta
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon dried chopped parsley

Boil water for noodles.

Melt butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a skillet. Mix flour, salt, and pepper together and dredge chicken in flour mixture.

Chicken PIccata

When butter is melted and sizzling, reduce heat to medium and fry chicken for about 5 minutes on each side. (Frying time for chicken will vary depending on thickness. Be sure to cook chicken thoroughly.)

Chicken PIccata

When chicken is cooked through, remove from pan and put on plate.

Boil noodles.

Deglaze pan with white wine. Add lemon juice and capers.

Chicken Piccata

Return chicken to pan and simmer for about 5 more minutes.

Drain and plate pasta.

Place chicken over pasta and spoon extra sauce over the top. Sprinkle parsley as garnish.

Chicken PIccata

This is one of those dishes that will make your family want to gather around your dinner table and hang out a while. Make it for them often. Talk about life with them. Dream big dreams with them. Enjoy your time with them.

Chicken Piccata
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Ingredients
  1. 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  2. 1 cup flour
  3. Salt and Pepper
  4. 3 tablespoons butter
  5. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  6. Juice of 3 lemons
  7. 1/2 cup white wine
  8. 1/2 box pasta
  9. 2 tablespoons capers
  10. 1 tablespoon dried chopped parsley
Instructions
  1. Boil water for noodles.
  2. Melt butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a skillet. Mix flour, salt, and pepper together and dredge chicken in flour mixture.
  3. When butter is melted and sizzling, reduce heat to medium and fry chicken for about 5 minutes on each side. (Frying time for chicken will vary depending on thickness. Be sure to cook chicken thoroughly.)
  4. When chicken is cooked through, remove from pan and put on plate.
  5. Boil noodles.
  6. Deglaze pan with white wine. Add lemon juice and capers.
  7. Return chicken to pan and simmer for about 5 more minutes.
  8. Drain and plate pasta.
  9. Place chicken over pasta and spoon extra sauce over the top. Sprinkle parsley as garnish.
Notes
  1. One thing to remember about Chicken Piccata is that it cooks quickly. It really helps to have all of your ingredients laid out, and even have it measured out if you can.
The Hill Hangout http://www.thehillhangout.com/

Hummus

Hummus

We have local Mediterranean restaurant in Birmingham called Nabeel’s, and they serve the most delicious hummus in the world. In fact, since it was the first place I ever tried hummus, every hummus since then has been held up to the standard of Nabeel’s.

One of my dear darling children who doesn’t eat very many things, loves hummus. And since it’s made with chickpeas, we go with it and call it her vegetable for the day. Since it is one of the few “healthy” things she will eat, we buy a LOT of hummus. I have tried to make it several times in the past, but the recipe just wasn’t right. However, the other day I came across a recipe that tasted just like Nabeel’s!!! Score!

It was really simple to make, and it makes a ton of hummus. Here’s what you’ll need:

Hummus

2 cans of chickpeas, drain and reserve liquid
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup tahini
Juice of 3 lemons (about 1/3 cup)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons (or more) of reserved liquid from chickpeas

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Kalamata olives to garnish

Put all ingredients (except remaining olive oil, paprika, and kalamata olives) into a blender and blend. (Super complicated recipe, right?) Thin to desired consistency by adding more of the reserved liquid and continuing to blend.

Pour into serving bowl. Sprinkle with paprika. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Top with kalamata olives. Serve with pita chips.

Hummus

Hummus
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cans of chickpeas, drain and reserve liquid
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 1/3 cup tahini
  4. Juice of 3 lemons (about 1/3 cup)
  5. 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  7. 3 tablespoons (or more) of reserved liquid from chickpeas
  8. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  9. 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  10. Kalamata olives to garnish
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients (except remaining olive oil, paprika, and kalamata olives) into a blender and blend. Thin to desired consistency by adding more of the reserved liquid and continuing to blend.
  2. Pour into serving bowl. Sprinkle with paprika. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Top with kalamata olives. Serve with pita chips.
The Hill Hangout http://www.thehillhangout.com/

Chocolate Peanut Clusters

Chocolate Peanut Clusters Chocolate Peanut Clusters were a new addition to our holiday celebrations this year. While I love spending time in the kitchen, quick and easy was the name of the game this year. I wanted a few sweet treats that were decadent, but didn’t require hours of cooking time. Chocolate Peanut Clusters were a big hit at our holiday parties, family dinners, and even our New Year’s Eve get-together. You only need three ingredients for Chocolate Peanut Clusters: a jar of dry roasted peanuts, a package of chocolate almond bark, and a sheet of wax paper. I use a double boiler to melt the chocolate almond bark, but you can also melt it in a glass bowl in the microwave. Just melt the chocolate, pour in the jar of peanuts, and mix well to coat all of the peanuts in chocolate. Drop by spoonfuls onto the wax paper. I use my well-loved small cookie scoop for this part. Chocolate Peanut Clusters Let them cool for about 15 minutes or until set. Peel off wax paper and store in an air-tight container until ready to serve. Chocolate Peanut Clusters I told you they were simple to make! And yet they taste like you spend your whole afternoon working on them. Your people will feel loved and adored and fussed over. My kind of sweet treat!

Chocolate Peanut Clusters
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Ingredients
  1. One package of chocolate almond bark
  2. One jar of dry roasted peanuts
  3. One sheet of wax paper
Instructions
  1. I use a double boiler to melt the chocolate almond bark, but you can also melt it in a glass bowl in the microwave. Just melt the chocolate, pour in the jar of peanuts, and mix well to coat all of the peanuts in chocolate.
  2. Drop by spoonfuls onto the wax paper.
The Hill Hangout http://www.thehillhangout.com/

Most Popular Posts of 2014

Best of 2014 collage

2014 has been a terrific year around the Hill Hangout! We have had more readers this year than in any other previous year since 2007, when we started posting a few pictures for our out-of-town family to see. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for hanging out with us. I feel that I have found MY people – the ones who love the Lord, love their families, love good food, love to fix things that are broken down, and love to explore new places. My top ten posts from 2014 reflect just that! I hope you’ll stick around for 2015.

10. Yum Yum Sauce

Yum Yum Sauce

9. The Best Homemade And Killer

Ant Killer

8. The Magic of Chalk Paint

Green Caneback Chairs

7. Mudslide Pie

Mudslide Pie

6. Summer Art Projects

Art

5. Back to School Prayers

Back to school

4. Greek Seasoning

Greek Seasoning

3. Creamy Sriracha Dipping Sauce

Sriracha

2. Loaded Cornbread

Loaded Cornbread

1. Miracle Treatment for Eczema

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