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Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Mama’s K.I.S.S. #43–Cooking Times Four

Portrait of happy mother and her daughter cooking in the kitchen

As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids.  This is number 43 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.

I’m sure you’ve thought of doing this with your kids, but it’s been a real benefit to ministry on several occasions for this family. Every time I make a casserole, a cobbler or a soup of any kind, I multiply all ingredient amounts by four, prepare the ingredients, and then spoon them out into 4-6 casserole dishes (depending on dish sizes), cover them well with heavy-duty foil, and freeze all of them except the one we are having for supper. I usually place the wrapped dishes in individual giant zippy bags to help guard them from freezer burn. I also label the bags with the name of the dish and the instructions for cooking or re-heating the dish. The casseroles and pies are almost always placed in the freezer before the baking, so you can just grab them from the freezer, thaw them and bake according to directions. Soups only need reheating. This is great math for upper-elementary kids, as they multiply the fractions of cups and teaspoons, and it’s great hospitality and benevolence planning for kids (especially daughters) of any age.

I know I don’t need to explain the benefits of this, but here goes. It’s cheaper to buy ingredients in bulk.  It greatly reduces cooking time because it only takes a few more minutes to make four casseroles than it takes to make one. When you do four meals at the time, you have one mess to clean up instead of four. 

But the biggest plus for me is being able to take a dish to a grieving family on the spur of the moment or to enjoy time with visiting family or friends instead of spending all my time cooking and cleaning the kitchen. It’s great to be able to have food on hand for Sunday dinners or fellowship meals. It’s great to be able to take a meal to someone who has just gotten home from the hospital or to someone who has a sick child. Best of all, your kids are watching and absorbing this active freezer ministry which just becomes a part of your family’s routine. It would be worth the price of my deep freezer many times over just for the consistency of hospitality and benevolence that it afforded our family. Of course we were still not even close to thorough or perfect as we took advantage of having a deep freezer. But still, it was/is a very helpful tool. 

Here are some dishes that work particularly well in the freezer. I’ve included the most recent recipe that I prepared and froze as well. It was very good! Thanks to Diana Shafer in Collierville, TN for sharing! It has already gone to a couple of octogenarians in their home in Tennessee and  to a visiting preacher-student family around our table.

These work well: 

Any kind of soup



Poppy seed chicken casseroles

Chicken, broccoli and rice casseroles

Most pasta dishes (especially if they are creamy)

Ground beef and vegetable casseroles

Dumpling dishes

Cobblers of any kind 

Dump cakes

Enchilada casseroles

Casseroles with crescent roll type crusts/toppings

Homemade Bread (Wrap well in a couple of layers of heavy duty foil or plastic wrap.)

(If a casserole calls for a cracker or potato chip or corn chip topping, add this after you remove it from the freezer.) 

                                                                                  Creamy Chicken


4-8 chicken breasts or 1 chicken

1 pt. sour cream

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 8 oz. package Pepperidge Farm dressing mix (may use more)… (Also, I think I used a store brand and it was yum.)

1/4 c.milk

1 can cream of mushroom soup


Cook chicken (boil or cook in microwave). Cool. Remove skin and cut into bite-size pieces. Line 9×13 dish with chicken. (But you can really use any size dishes. cc) Sprinkle with salt. Combine soups, sour cream and milk. Spread this over chicken.Prepare dressing mix according to directions on package. Margarine may be omitted if you do not like rich dressing. Use broth from chicken or chicken bouillon for liquid required in dressing mix. Spread dressing on top of soup mixture. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes. May be frozen before baking.  (This is easy and so very good!)


Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Mama’s K.I.S.S. Number 15 – Signature Recipes

One of the most requested topics this year on my speaking circuit has been a lesson in which I list a hundred ideas for training our kids to be servants. Service oriented kids grow up to be productive adult servants in the kingdom and it’s those people to whom the Lord will say, “Come ye blessed of my Father,” according to Matthew 25. So it matters if I’m making a real effort, as a mom, to put the heart of a servant in my child. For this reason, I’ve decided to devote a post, every now and then, to a service suggestion—a simple idea for moms to make their homes busy service centers for young hearts and hands. I’d love to hear from those of you who try them. So here goes:

Signature Recipes

If you have a child who is seven years old or above, I hope you have taught him or her to make something to share from your kitchen. What I found to be very efficient when bringing up Caleb and Hannah was to really get them very adept at one or two super easy recipes. It helps if you let them choose to learn to make things they love to eat. That way it’s not a chore to coax them into the kitchen, particularly if you promise to let them lick the bowl or save a bit of the treat back for their desserts after supper. Below are a few of the favorite kid-friendly recipes from the Colley house. The possibilities are endless about how to share the blessings once your kids get cooking. The monkey bread wreaths are great holiday gifts for Bible class teachers. The dessert is a favorite when the youth group is coming over for a devotional or when you are having someone in for a Bible study or when a new neighbor moves in down the street. (Be sure to attach an invitation to your congregation’s services.) The macaroni and cheese is a hit for fellowship meals or taking to a mom with a new baby, especially if she has some older children to feed. And, of course, the cookies make great VBS snacks or take-along gifts when your children go to read the Bible to an elderly person. The best part about signature recipes is that, once you train your kids to make them and clean up the mess, you can keep the ingredients on hand and just send the kids into the kitchen at a moment’s notice whenever the need arises, even if it’s one of those days when you, personally, are out of pocket or very short on time. Notice that one of these recipes doesn’t even require turning on the stove. So…get cooking!

Hannah’s Signature Recipes:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dessert

1 pkg. Chips Ahoy Cookies
1 medium tub of Cool Whip
1 cup milk

Pour the milk in a bowl and dip enough of the cookies to cover the bottom of your serving dish. Cover this with a layer of cool whip. Repeat till all used up (ending with cool whip) except a couple of cookies. Crumble these cookies and sprinkle on top. YUM!

Hannah’s Macaroni and Cheese

4 c. cooked and drained macaroni noodles
½ c. milk
3 TBSP butter
½ c. cream cheese
1 ½ c. shredded cheddar cheese
3 TBSP sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all these ingredients in a big bowl while the cooked noodles are still piping hot. You can put it in the oven and bake for a few minutes if you want, BUT my favorite right from the bowl I mixed all this in!

Caleb’s Signature Recipes

Monkey Bread
¾ c. sugar
2-3 tsp cinnamon
2 large cans biscuits
1 stick butter

Cut biscuits into quarters. Combine sugar and cinnamon in bowl. Add quartered biscuits and shake till well coated. Drop in grease round pan and add 1 stick of melted butter on top. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or till golden brown. (Caleb made this in a Bundt type pan and so it came out as a wreath. He then would sprinkle green sugar or red and green sprinkles on the top and make a wreath to take to people at Christmas time. Sometimes he would put red hots and a green sprig at the bottom for a bow. You could do this, of course, any time of year using candy corn for fall or jellybeans for spring, etc…)

Honey’s Peanut Butter Cookies

½ cup peanut butter
1 stick margarine
½ cup brown sugar
½ c. white sugar
1 beaten egg
1 cup flour
½ tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt

Cream first four ingredients. Then add the rest. Chill this dough (or not, if you can’t wait!). Roll dough in marble sized balls. Mash with bottom of glass that has been dipped in sugar. (350 for 10-12 minutes)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Mama’s K.I.S.S. Number 4 – Bread Baking

One of the most requested topics this year on my speaking circuit has been a lesson in which I list a hundred ideas for training our kids to be servants. Service oriented kids grow up to be productive adult servants in the kingdom and it’s those people to whom the Lord will say, “Come ye blessed of my Father,” according to Matthew 25. So it matters if I’m making a real effort, as a mom, to put the heart of a servant in my child. For this reason, I’ve decided to devote a post, every now and then, to a service suggestion—a simple idea for moms to make their homes busy service centers for young hearts and hands. I’d love to hear from those of you who try them. So here goes:

Bread Baking
For sure the staple give-away from the Colley kitchen for the past twenty-five years has been sourdough bread. We have continuously made it, frozen it, and given it away. Thankfully, we’ve never eaten nearly as much as we’ve shared. I will share the recipe below. But you should know that if you really decide to do this, it will become very popular. People will ask you to provide the bread for fellowship meals, sleepovers, ladies nights and retreats. I have baked this bread as we have worked in four different congregations. I put a loaf in our back-yard cabin when we have guests. I send it back to the dorm with college kids. I use it for gifts for Bible class teachers and piano teachers. It just comes in handy at every turn. 
Best of all, it has truly been a blessing to Caleb and Hannah as they have learned it’s more blessed to give. Hannah has been helping to make this bread since she was about two. She has taken it to hand out at ladies seminars and as prizes in VBS. She loaded her wagon with it when she was very small and delivered it to neighbors. It has served as many a hostess gift or birthday surprise for a secret sister.  But just last week she asked me, after being away for college and work for several years, if I would make sure she has bread-making down before she moves off with her new husband to do their own work in a Dalton, Georgia congregation. “Ben wants me to be a bread maker like you, so we can take bread to the sick people and the members when we visit. I mean he is all about this, Mom.” 
Well, that’s all. I mean that’s the most gratifying thing she can say about any childhood service project. Multi-generational service ideas are the best. The bread is not perfect every time. The dough may rise better next week than this. The air bubbles may often have been smaller with a little more kneading. But, if it’s good enough to serve the next generation of preacher’s households in our family, I’ll take that! This recipe was a favorite of Guy N. Woods. He loved baking it right up until he died! I’ve shared it with a long list of people who have shared it with their own lists of women.) 
Here it is (Read to the bottom to find out how to start the whole grand process by making your own starter):
First, you get the starter out after three to five days of refrigeration (but you can wait up to eleven days if you want) and add 3 TBSP of instant potato flakes, 3/4 cup of sugar and 1 cup of lukewarm water. Let this sit on your counter all day and shake it up or stir it a couple of times through the day. After five to 10 hours on the counter, it should have this white foam on the top and it’s ready to rock and roll!  So you take out a cup and add to this cup six cups of BREAD flour, 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water, 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of cooking oil and 2 tsp salt. (If you have a bunch of starter, you can use two cups of starter, of course, and double all of this.) You mix all of this together and pour it into a big mixing bowl that’s been well greased with Crisco. (Use a plastic or glass bowl). Then let it sit out on the counter for five to twelve hours till it’s grown to twice its size. 
Second, you knead it lightly adding a little flour so it won’t stick to your hands while kneading (not much flour, though, and not much kneading either…just get the big air bubbles out). Grease your pans with cooking oil and flour and then divide up the dough and put it in the pans (each recipe should make three medium loaves). Don’t fill pans more than 2/3 full. Then rub the tops of the loaves lightly with cooking oil. I use my fingers to do this. Cover lightly with a thin cheesecloth or with Saran Wrap, but do not cover tightly. (You don’t have to cover at all if you don’t have pets or bugs.)  Wait for the bread to rise–another five to twelve hours. 
Finally, bake in the middle of your oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees if you have regular sized loaves. Then brush the tops of the loaves with butter. 
As I told you, you can use up all of your starter and take a break and then start over. To start over, you just put the three basic beginning ingredients together and add a packet of instant yeast to your cup of lukewarm water. Let this set out on the counter all day and then refrigerate it till you’re ready to start making bread again (3 days to a week). Or if you want, you can just go ahead and make bread with what you just mixed together and then you won’t have any leftover starter to keep. Bread freezes great and “gives away” even better!  There!
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. “ But listen, ladies: There have been many times when a good loaf of bread has opened the mouth and the heart at the same time! Sustenance for the soul sometimes starts with sustenance for the body.