Best Gluten-Free Italian Meatball Recipe with Basil Pesto Pasta

by Ruth Rautio

Ingredients:

1 small to medium sweet onion
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled, cut in half
1 medium carrot, peeled, cut into several pieces
1 pound of organic grass fed ground beef or buffalo- either works
1 pound of organic ground pork
1/2 cup Annie’s Naturals or Muir Glen Organic Ketchup
1 tablespoon organic molasses (this helps bind the mixture)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/3 to 1/2 cup gluten-free herbed bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (my secret ingredient)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Dash of red pepper flakes, for heat, if desired
Olive oil, as needed

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Toss the onion, garlic and carrot pieces into a food processor and pulse until the texture is very finely diced. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, briefly stir together the ground beef and pork. Add in the processed onion, garlic and carrot mixture, ketchup, molasses, balsamic vinegar, parsley, gluten-free bread crumbs, sea salt and pepper flakes. Mix gently to combine. Try not to over-mix (over-mixing makes a dense meatball).
  4. Rub a little olive oil on your hands and form the meatball mixture into balls (roughly the size of golf balls). Place them on the lined baking sheet. You should end up with about 20-24 balls.
  5. Bake the meatballs in the center of the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes until done (no longer pink in the center). Note: Smaller meatballs cook faster, so if your meatballs are smaller, check them at 20 minutes. If you make ginormous balls, Darling, they’ll take longer to cook through. Adjust baking times accordingly.
  6. You could also fry the meatballs in a large skillet, using olive oil, I suppose, but this method makes an oilier meatball.

Makes about six servings.

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Make Me a Servant

by Sarah Langness

Alright.  I have a very anti-Christian-sounding confession to make. But don’t write me off or let this statement keep you from reading this in full:

Sometimes, I really don’t like praying.

Not the actual  act of praying, the whole talking to my Father, sharing my heart with Him stuff. I’m fine with that. But I don’t like praying for change . . . specifically, change in me. It’s like that whole concept of  “Don’t pray for patience, otherwise the Lord will give you more opportunities to practice patience.” I had one of those experiences this past week. Except I prayed for a servant heart. And man, was I ever tested.

It all started when I decided to start reading through the book of Mark. I began to notice how often Jesus mentioned servant hood and how often He Himself was a servant (1 Peter 2:21). And because He has left us an example to follow, I knew I needed to become a servant as well. That I needed to become less selfish as a mother and as a wife. That I needed to exemplify love as Paul describes it in that all-too familiar chapter that we don’t even really get anymore – 1 Corinthians 13. That I needed to put the needs of those in our church family and our community above my own. So my prayer became that of the old song:

Make me a servant, humble and meek.
Lord, let me lift up those who are weak.
And may the prayer of my heart always be, make me a servant.
Make me a servant . . . today.”

After only a few mornings of praying this prayer, the opportunities seemed to abound for me to be a servant. And they weren’t opportunities that came from a far-off place or would send me out of my comfort zone. They were in my own home.

They were opportunities with a toddler who suffered from a 102.2 fever and just wanted to cuddle for nearly two days. They were opportunities with that same toddler who, after the fever broke and he seemed to be himself, didn’t want to take naps in his crib and would only sleep while being held. They were opportunities with my husband, who can’t read my mind after only (almost) four years of marriage. They were opportunities to make a meal for a VBS team even when I felt like we had so much to get ready for our trip. They were opportunities to open our home to new friends even when I felt so tired at the end of the day.

Here’s my other confession: after a couple of days of constant opportunities to be a servant, I stopped praying that prayer. I was exhausted.

But ya know what? I should start praying that prayer again. Because Jesus was a servant even in death. I guess this time though, I’ll try not to be as surprised at the constant opportunities to serve.

“‘You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.'”  Mark 10:42-45, (NASB) (emphasis mine)

A Perfect Picture

by Sarah Nelson

As I was hanging pictures on the walls of our new home, I thought of a simply decorated wall hanging that has been on my parents’ walls for many years at many different addresses.  It is not an expensive piece of art.  It’s not ornate, masterfully designed, or worth many dollars.  It is a Bible verse written in beautiful calligraphy and decorated with some simple purple and blue flowers.  I don’t treasure that picture because of it’s appearance, but because of  the message on it that reached my heart many, many times over the years.  The verse?

“For my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Paul was given a thorn in the flesh and pleaded with the Lord to remove it.  What was the Lord’s response?

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.  But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:8-10  (ESV)

Do you have a situation in your life that is a painful thorn?  Do you have troubled relationships, a difficult workplace experience, or a physical challenge that is making your life seem unbearable?   Have you asked God time and time again to remove it and His answer has been no, or not yet?  If that is the case, know that He does see, He does hear, He does care, and He does have a plan to use that thorn for His glory.  His grace IS sufficient for us.  This doesn’t mean we are spared pain, tears, and loss, but it does mean friends that He is WITH us.

May God remind you today that His power is made perfect in the weaknesses of our lives.  Less of us, more of Him.  May that be the picture of our lives.

Follow Me!

by Velma Amundson

I was in the lunch line at the AFLC Annual Conference last week at the ARC, and happily talking with a friend of mine. We were chatting and walking along, enjoying ourselves, when I heard a voice behind me, “Velma, where are you going? The line is this way”. It seems I do this frequently. My husband and I will be taking a walk. It’s so much fun and there is so much to look at, or think about. I can be happily walking along, watching the clouds, the birds, singing a little song. I’ll be so engrossed in what I’m doing that I completely miss the turn home. Then I hear that familiar voice behind me, “Velma, where are you going?  Home is this way”. Of course, I turn around and get back on the “right path”, following the voice of my husband.

It’s like that following Christ, too. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in what’s going on around me that I get a little lost. When I taught my Confirmation class, we talked about being in the wilderness. They all agreed that the wilderness was a dangerous place to be, full of temptation and evil. I talked to them about a different kind of wilderness, one where there are trees and flowers and beauty all around us. A wilderness that we would feel safe in, let our guard down. Of course, that’s when the danger is the greatest. It’s when we are most susceptible to temptation and getting a little lost.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”  John 10:27  (NASB)

Thankfully, when I get a little lost, or distracted, I hear the voice of my Savior saying, “Velma, where are you going? The way is with me”. I know His voice, and I follow.

I pray that whenever you “get a little lost”, you hear the voice of Christ saying, “Where are you going?”, and you follow Him. May God bless and keep you.

Gluten-Free Apple Cake Muffins

by Ruth Rautio

Ingredients:

1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup millet flour, or brown rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 organic free range eggs, beaten
1/2 cup organic canola oil
1/2 cup rice milk
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla extract
1 heaping cup diced peeled apple (we used two medium apples)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a twelve cup muffin tin.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, potato starch, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. 
  3. Add the eggs and oil, and beat to combine. Add the rice milk and vanilla extract, and continue beating for a minute or two until the batter is smooth and elastic.
  4. Stir in the apple pieces by hand.
  5. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups.
  6. Bake in the center of a preheated oven for about 22 minutes, until the muffins are domed, and firm.
  7. Cool on a wire rack for five minutes, then turn out the muffins from the pan to keep them from getting soggy. Continue to cool on a wire rack.

Serving by Grace

by Sarah Langness

Remember that lesson I was learning about servant hood and that servant heart? I’ve found myself in situations this week yet again where that has been tested. Where my desire to have a servant heart has been challenged. Where I’ve learned even more about how selfish I am and how much work my heart needs.

And you know what else I have learned this week about being a servant?

It’s not something I can do on my own. Not on my own strength. Not by my own will. Not by my own power.

Only through Christ can I serve when I am exhausted and crabby. Only through Christ can I love as He has called us to love. Only through Christ can I have the grace to respond as He would respond.

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13, NASB (emphasis mine)

So not only have I been praying to be a servant; but I’ve been praying for the grace to be a servant. When those trying moments come, when I am crabby, when I am simply exhausted — I’ve started asking the Lord to give me grace. Grace to show to others so that I can be a servant.

Praise God we don’t have to do this stuff on our own!

Out of the Drought

by Sarah Langness

The sound of rain hitting the rooftops or windows used to be one of my favorite sounds.  Used to be is key in that statement. Those of you in the Beulah area know how endless the rain has seemed to be over the last couple of weeks. For those of you outside the area, I’ll simply say that in the past two weeks we have broken the previous record for spring rainfall. So, on those rare occasions, those brief days when the clouds vanish and the sun shines, Ezekiel and I spend every possible minute outside. On Saturday, after nearly two days of non-stop rain, we were strolling around the neighborhood after our morning walk. It was glorious: white fluffy clouds (not rain-producing ones), beautiful blue sky, and warm sunshine. As we passed one house, I noticed a lady outside watering her flowers. I shook my head, thinking how ridiculous that was given all the rain we’d had. But after a moment, her actions made me think.

There are times when I feel saturated in the Word of God. Times at camps, retreats, conferences, where I feel so refreshed, so renewed, so solid and so strong in my faith. Those time are wonderful. I love that feeling.

But let’s be honest: those feelings never last. I enter times of drought. Times when Scripture seems so dry, where I feel like I’ve heard it all, where I seem . . . stuck. Those times aren’t so wonderful; and unfortunately, they seem to happen more often than I’d like. I don’t like these feelings.

So when I saw that lady out watering her flowers, I thought about how I need continual nourishment. Daily waterings. Those “spiritual highs” aren’t enough to sustain me and won’t get me through the times of drought. What will get me through those times of drought is Him. Jesus. The Word. My Savior.

Thankfully my salvation is not dependent upon on how I feel about my current spiritual state. It’s all Him; it’s all His grace. But drawing near to Him is not going to happen on its own. As a checklist person, I’d like a list to follow; “Do a-b-c, and then you will feel closer to God today,” – but it doesn’t work like that.

So what am I going to do? I guess I’ll start praying – pray for a new heart, a new spirit, a renewed joy (Psalm 51:10-12). And seek Him. Seek Him diligently (2 Chronicles 16:11). Intentionally set aside that time (even if it’s on the toilet) to plunge into His Word for those few precious moments alone (because as a mom, sometimes those are my only moments alone!). Use that four mile walk to commune with Him (Mark 1:35). And looking back at that, it sure looks like an “a-b-c” list. But I hope and pray Jesus never becomes someone I simply check off on my to-do list.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” – James 4:8, NASB

Forgive My Forgetting

by Sarah Langness

I think it’s in our human nature to forget. We forget where we put our car keys. We forget where we last saw that little toddler put our hairbrush. We forget to dust that ledge, write that note, call that lady back. Lots of times, we simply forget the little things. Things that result in an inconvenience, make us disgusted with our memory, and leave Cheerios in the high chair. But I think it’s also easy for us to forget the “big stuff” – like what Memorial Day is actually about – because there is so much clutter.

Think about it: Simple celebrations, simple remembrances. Awe-striking truth and glorious hope. And yet we muddle them.

Christmas has become less about the simple, humble, incredible birth of Immanuel – God with us – and more about gifts, church programs, snow, decorations, St. Nick, cocoa and lights. Thanksgiving has become less about recognizing how much we have to be grateful for and actually taking time to thank the Lord and to give to others and more about football, big turkeys, and the start of shopping. Memorial Day has become less a day to publicly recognize and thank those who have served our country, a day to think about all our nation has experienced – and more about summer beginning, graduations, and grilling.

All things – these “extra” things – they aren’t necessarily bad. But when they cause us to lose focus of what we’re really celebrating, what we’re really remembering, who we’re really thanking — that’s when it gets rough.

Throughout Scripture, we’re exhorted to remember. It’s good to remember — probably because it’s so easy to forget.

“‘Remember this, and be assured; recall it to mind, you transgressors.  Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from the ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’,'” – Isaiah 46:8-10 (NASB, emphasis mine)

So, to those who have served and to those who have had a loved one serve our country: thank you. I do not comprehend the immensities of the sacrifice, the long months apart from family, the intense realities of what you may have seen and experienced both here at home and abroad. I definitely could not pass your physical fitness tests. Thank you for protecting us from afar. Thank you for fighting floods and fires at home; for helping clean up messes brought by natural disasters. Thank you for serving in hospitals and being used to bring healing to the injured. I humbly admit that I take your service for granted. Forgive me.

And Lord, forgive our nation for forgetting You.