A Work In Progress

A Work In Progress

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The "Skinny" on Our Winter Solstice Party

     I did it!  I successfully baked 3 Desserts and made 2 Appetizers (with the help of my Husband), for our 3rd Annual Winter Solstice Party.  My Desserts and Appetizers were a hit!  This making so many items for one party is new for me!  I feel so Domesticated now! :-)  You wanna know the best part (in my opinion) about the food I prepared?  Everything I served was "Points Friendly"!  If someone wanted to try 1 serving of each of the 5 items served, they would have only needed to use 8 Weight Watchers Points!  We also served Skinny Sticks and Ranch Veggie Straws which are also "Points Friendly", and we served a fruit platter (which I forgot to take a picture of) with watermelon, cantaloupe and red and green grapes.  For beverages, we had a choice of water, soda, diet soda, moscato, and Stella Artois bottles of beer. 
I wanted to share my "Skinny" and WW Points Friendly recipe finds with you all. 
All food pics were taken by me.

Appetizer #1
Skinny, Pizza Flavored Pigs in a Blanket
Recipe taken from SkinnyKitchen.com
WW Points Plus per piece:  1
I doubled this recipe.

Ingredients for Pigs in a Blanket:
1 (8-oz) can Pillsbury Reduced-Fat Refrigerated Crescent Dinner Rolls
1 package Hebrew National 97% fat-free hotdogs, cut int 4 pieces each (you’ll have 1 leftover)
¼ cup pizza or pasta sauce, from a jar, see shopping tips
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
Garlic powder

Ingredients for dipping: Optional
⅔ cup pizza sauce or pasta sauce


1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray.
2. Unroll dough; separate into 8 triangles. Cut each triangle into 3 smaller triangles. Don’t worry if the shape of the triangle looks more like a box. It will still roll up nicely. Spread each triangle with ½ teaspoon pizza sauce and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon Parmesan. Place 1 mini hot dog on the shortest side of each triangle; Roll up to opposite point. Fold in any dough sticking out.  Place, point side down on cookie sheet. Sprinkle each with a little garlic powder over the top. Repeat steps to make 24 total.
3. Bake for 15 to 16 minutes or until deep golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet onto a serving plate.
4. Serve with pizza sauce on the side, if desired.
Makes 24 total
Appetizer #2
TGI Friday’s Mozzarella Sticks Made Skinny
Recipe taken from SkinnyKitchen.com
WW Points Plus for 2 pieces:  2
I doubled this recipe.

Ingredients for Mozzarella Sticks:
12 light string cheese sticks, I used Weight Watchers Smoked Flavor String cheese or any brand of light low-moisture part skim mozzarella cheese sticks
1 large egg, I like Egg-Land’s Best
2 tablespoons flour
 cup panko crumbs, see shopping tip
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Cooking spray, I like olive oil cooking spray

Ingredients for Dipping:

¾ cup pizza sauce or marinara sauce, I used Classico Pizza Sauce

1. Cut each cheese stick in half to create 24 pieces. Place cheese pieces on a plate and freeze for at least 1 hour until frozen. These can be stored for several days in the freezer until ready to use. Wrap them in plastic wrap, once frozen.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
3. In small bowl, beat the egg. Place flour in another small bowl. In a third small bowl, add panko bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix well.
4. To assemble mozzarella sticks: Dip frozen sticks in flour, shaking off excess, then into egg, then finally coat with panko crumbs. Repeat steps to coat all of them.
5. Place all coated sticks on baking sheet.  Spray the tops with cooking spray.
6. Bake for 5 minutes, turn over and spray with a little more cooking spray. Bake an additional 4-5 minutes until heated but NOT melted. In fact, be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t melt!
7. Remove from oven and place on a plate.  Serve with pizza sauce on the side.  Refrigerate any leftovers. They will keep for several days. To reheat, either zap in microwave for a few seconds or place on a baking sheet and heat in a 400 degree oven until warm but not melted.

Makes 24 pieces (each serving 2 pieces and 1 tablespoon sauce) These 2 pieces are equal to 1 string cheese stick!

Dessert #1
Mini Cherry Pies
Recipe taken from DessertYum.com
WW Points Plus per mini pie:  1
I doubled this recipe.


1. Nasoya Won Ton Wraps - 12 ounce package.
2. Light Pie Filling & Topping - 20 ounce can.
3. Light Cool Whip (optional)

Sit Won Ton Wraps in Muffin Tins

Evenly distribute Pie Filling into the 12 tins

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes (I baked mine for more like 17 minutes)

Top with light cool whip

Makes 12 Mini Cherry Pies

Dessert #2
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars
Recipe taken from Iowafarmgrown.com
WW Points Plus per bar:  2

1 box angel food cake mix (1 step kind)
1 15 oz can pumpkin
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 8 oz package reduced fat or fat-free cream cheese

Add in a few tablespoons of water with the cream cheese to thin it out a little bit. (tip: leave the cream cheese on the counter to soften. I mixed the cream cheese and water with my hand mixer.)
In a separate bowl, mix the cake mix, pumpkin, water and cinnamon together until it is smooth and well mixed.

Spray a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish with Pam, and add HALF of the cake/pumpkin mix. Smooth it out with a rubber spatula. Drizzle half of the cream cheese over the top and take a small spatula to smooth it over the top. Add remaining cake/pumpkin mix and the remaining cream cheese making layers.
Finally, take a butter knife and stick it into the mix swirling it back and forth in the cake by making figure “8’s” to blend it.

Bake for 35 minutes at 375 degrees OR until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 24 bars.

Dessert #3
Skinny Funfetti Cupcakes
Recipe taken from sixsistersstuff.com
WW Points Plus per Cupcake:  2

1 pkg. Pillsbury Funfetti Cake Mix (just the powder, not the recipe on the box)
1 (12 ounce) can Sprite Zero
1 (8 ounce) container Fat Free Cool Whip
1 (1.5 ounce) pkg. Fat Free Vanilla Jello Instant Pudding (just the powder, not the recipe on the box)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 24 cupcake tins with paper liners.  In a large bowl, combine cake mix and Sprite together.  Continue to mix until the batter is smooth without any lumps.  Pour approximately 1/4 cup of batter into every cupcake wrapper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Let cool before frosting.
In a mixing bowl, add Cool Whip and pudding.  Mix with a whisk by hand or an electric hand mixer until smooth.  Spread over cooled cupcakes.  Makes enough frosting for 24 cupcakes.


The Winter Solstice Party Peeps

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Precious Peace

It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. ~Unknown
One of the Most Peaceful Places I Know - Mackinac Island
I have never in my life known and experienced such internal peace as the peace I know now!  It's taken 40 plus years, but looking back, I see how God has used every loss and every struggle I have experienced in life, to bring me to this point of Joy and Peace.  Yes, I knew all along that God was in control (in my head that is), and I knew that I "should" feel peace, but I didn't "really" feel peace (which I felt guilty about).  I didn't have that confident hope deep in my heart, deep in my being.  I wasn't completely filled with joy and peace.  I had heard (and memorized) many of the Bible verses about peace before, but you know what?  They hadn't sunk deep into my heart.  It was just head knowledge. 

As I've been reflecting on why that was, I've realized that for most of my life, I saw God as more of a Controlling Judge who pointed out my wrong doings, than a Loving Father.  I didn't know in my heart that the Character of God is (and always has been) Loving.  I didn't believe in my heart that He Loved me REGARDLESS, and IN SPITE OF, what I have done or haven't done.  I didn't believe that he ALWAYS has my best interest at heart.  In my mind, His Love was based on my performance.  Fear of punishment is no way to live.  It makes me sad that I, in essence, was so self-righteous, that I believed my "trying to be perfect" would earn His Love.  It is SO FREEING to FINALLY GET that He Loves me.  He Loves ME.  He Loves ME because HE IS LOVE!  He Loved me when I was a Lutheran, and He Loves me Now and He would Love me if I was an agnostic and He would Love me if I was an atheist.  He Loves ME!  He is NOT out to get me! 

Guess What?  He LOVES YOU TOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  You can't DO anything to make Him Love you More and NOTHING you could DO could ever make Him Love you any less!

I LOVE the New Living Translation of the Bible!  What I knew before was head knowledge.  This Version helps me read all of the verses I grew up knowing, in a different light.  That's why it FEEDS my HEART the way I need it to be fed.

So, whatever comes my way, good or bad, whether I have 2 Months, 3 Years, or 40 Years left on this earth, I KNOW without a doubt, that HE IS GOOD and HE IS LOVING! That's a GREAT Place to be in Life! :-)

My Definition of Peace:

Praise Him Knowing with Absolute Certainty that
Everything is ALWAYS in His Capable Hands
And that He will Lovingly
Care for Me and Guide Me thru this Life and into
Eternity with Him Forevermore.

"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him.  Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13 NLT

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!  His faithful love endures forever." 
Psalms 136:1 NLT

"For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow."
James 1:3 NLT

"They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them."
Psalm 112:7 NLT

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Have You Met My Dad?

If you have known me less than 15 years, you for sure have not met my Dad.   His name was Herbert William Latzke.  He was born on November 3rd, 1940 and passed away on December 8th, 1999.   Heaven has been his home since December 8th, 1999.  I can't believe it's already been 15 years of memories that we have made without him!  I was at a joint Memorial Service today for my Friend's Dad and Stepmom who passed away 9 days apart from each other.  Her Stepmom's Niece told us about her Stepmom, and a Friend of her Dad's told us about her Dad.  This gave me the idea, that rather than focusing on my loss tomorrow, I would write a blog post telling you all about my Dad.  I want to focus on his 59 years of life, rather than on my loss.  So, I will tell you things about my Dad to give you a glimpse into his life.

  • He was his parent's 2nd born child.  He had an older brother, 2 younger brothers, and a younger Sister (all of whom are still living).

  • He was born in Eagle River, WI.

  • He grew up in Elkhart/Edwardsburg.  His Dad worked for Studebaker and owned an Avanti.

  • He was 31 years old when he Married my Mom.

  • He had 3 Daughters (I am the oldest).

  • My Mom had a half hour labor with me and Dad had to deliver me at home.  I was almost born on the toilet.  They called him Dr. Latzke for like 3 years!

  • He worked as a Realtor for many years in the 80's while I was growing up, but left that Industry due to the economy and needing a steady paycheck to provide for his family.

  • He was working for Reese Products in Elkhart, IN when he passed away.  He had worked there for 9-10 years.

  • He had an incredibly strong work ethic.  He worked very hard to provide for us.

  • He loved God and had the best of intentions.

  • He did not like change (hmm...wonder where I got that from?).  Every Sunday we had to sit in the 3rd pew on the Left side of the Church.  He was pretty territorial about this.

  • He was a deep and analytical thinker, much like myself.  No one else in my Family thinks like I do, but he did!

  • He was a strict German Lutheran.  The Old Red Hymnal was like God's Inspired Word to him, and if it changed it was the end of the World. Let's not even talk about the NIV version of the Bible!  He was King James all the way and the NIV was the worst thing ever!  Can you see a theme here about not liking change? :-)

  • He called me Jen Jen.  I don't allow anyone else to call me this, not even Jonathan.  It hurts too much.  I once had someone call me this over and over, even after I asked him to stop.  Yeah, I don't talk to this person anymore. :-)

  • He worried a lot.

  • He frequently recited "This is the day that the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it!".  Oh did I hate it when he would say that, but now it's one of my best memories of him.

  • He was mechanical and fixed all of our cars.  Taking them to a garage to be fixed was not an option, even when I lived 200 miles away.

  • He and Mom sacrificed a lot to send us to private Christian Grade School/High School.

  • Deep down, he was a softie.  He got teary eyed quite often while watching TV.

  • He owned a 1951 Kaiser when I was a little kid.

  • He had a silly sense of humor.  He thought it was funny to say "Hey Jen, Where's Ben?".  Had I known a Ben, I would have told him where Ben was! LOL :-)

  • He pulled me and one of my Sister's on a sled down State Road 23 to go to Martins for groceries during the blizzard of 1978.  Mom was pregnant with girl number 3 at the time.

  • He didn't have the best singing voice, but he sure belted it out while singing at Church, singing praises to our God.   He didn't care what others thought. 

  • He loved being a Grandpa to Trey.  Trey was 5 when Dad passed away.

  • He got to walk 1 of his 3 daughters down the aisle at her Wedding (the middle Sister, Pam).

  • He looked the most like his Brother Bill.  I always say if people want to know what Dad would look like now if he were still alive, just look at his Brother Bill!

  • He had Lupus and learned to take life one day at a time while in the hospital, before he passed away.

  • He frequently said "Jennifer, Pam, & Debbie" when trying to address just one of us girls. 

  • His Favorite Bible Verses were Proverbs 3:5-6:  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him,  and he will direct your paths.

So there you have it, a glimpse into the Man that I call my Dad!  He is never forgotten and always loved.  Happy 15th Anniversary of your entrance into Heaven, Dad!  I've grown up lots since you left, but I'm Happy and I'm so Blessed to have an Amazing Husband!  I love you!  See you soon!

~Jen Jen