My Flight Operations Manual

The Captain’s Corner

On my bookshelf is a large three-ring binder titled Flight Operations Manual (FOM). It’s about two-and-a-half inches thick, with subject tabs that cover topics such as emergency procedures, weather, passengers, baggage and cargo, maintenance, reports and forms, etc. The list is extensive. As a pilot, I had to know, memorize, or at least know where to find the information necessary to conduct the flight. I carried this manual with me while on duty, which included having it by my side in the cockpit.

Thankfully, God has given us a similar “flight operations manual” in His written letter to us, the Bible. It contains the topics we need to know about (and apply) as we journey through life: the facts of creation, the sin of all humankind, God’s plan of redemption through Christ, guidance for daily Christian living, etc.

Consider the promises of Scripture:

2 Timothy 3:16 (NKJV) – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” God’s Word is valuable and sufficient!

Psalm 119:105 (KJV) – “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” God’s Word gives guidance and direction for our lives!

Just as it was important for me to know and study the FOM, it is supremely important to read and study God’s matchless, unchanging Word to equip us for godly living.


Joe Henderson, Brenda’s husband, is a retired international airline captain and now blogs in “The Captain’s Corner” on a regular basis.

Would you like to receive these posts in your Inbox? We won’t spam you! You will only receive e-mails from us when a new post appears on the blog. Click here to subscribe.

My First Year As a Second Wife

Expectations. That’s probably one of the most common threads that has run through my first year as a second wife—unfulfilled expectations, unrealistic expectations, and most importantly, beyond my highest expectations!

Communication. That’s probably the key element that I have relied upon during my first year as a second wife—learning to listen, staying consistent to who I am, accepting truth, talking freely, remaining silent, speaking up, laughing often!

Uniqueness. That’s probably the greatest gift I’ve been given in my first year as a second wife—having a husband who understands that I’ll do things differently, accepting the fact that we are both in a new season of our lives, knowing that what works for us may not work for others because what worked for others most likely would never have worked for us!

Yes, my husband was married before. His first wife, a friend of mine and my father’s former secretary, passed away in 2015 after a long-term struggle with heart disease. They were married for over forty years and had a love that ran deep.

He has, on rare occasions, called me by her first name. From the very beginning, I did not find that awkward. It was a habit of his, and I understood that. For over forty years, when he spoke of weekly activities or talked with friends about something he and his wife had done, he would use her name. He loved her. Using her name was an expression of that. In replying to him when he rapidly apologized for using the wrong name, I did not tell him, “That’s okay.” It’s not okay to be called by someone else’s name. Instead, I replied with, “I understand.” It’s very rare for it to happen, but I, as a second wife, have chosen to understand that when love runs deep, habits die hard. There’s actually a sense of security I receive from knowing that because Joe loved his first wife so intently, he will do the same for me. His character has not changed. In fact, if I arrive in heaven before Joe, I want him to remarry quickly (he would NOT make it well on his own…and he knows this!), and…sorry, but I hope he calls her “Brenda” at least a few times because of the depths of his love for me!

As for family adjustments, I count myself blessed. My husband’s only child is a grown daughter who is married and has two children, ages ten and thirteen. I am “Brenda” to all of them—by my choice and theirs. We have this amazing, growing, compassionate respect and understanding for all that has taken place over the last year, and I could not have handpicked a family any dearer to call my own. But like any good relationship, our family relationship is intentional: Joe and I have made a great effort to visit them often, and they have spent time here as well. We communicate freely; we respect the past and find hope in the future, and I couldn’t have mapped it out any better than it is. My husband’s grandsons have amazing grandparents on their father’s side, and I am grateful that they are not only the boys’ grandparents, but they are also our friends.

Joe’s brother and his family live out of state as well, and we are eagerly anticipating a trip to visit them. I respect them highly though I do not know them well yet at this point. However, I am already looking forward to getting to know them better when we are with them in person again! My siblings had the advantage of being family friends with Joe and his first wife for many years, so they love him as one of our own and have welcomed him in the same spirit of love that I have received. Sweet Mama considers him one of “her boys,” and that means a great deal to Joe—and to me.

My husband’s first wife’s family lives nearby, and we have enjoyed lunches and special celebrations with her siblings and other relatives. When Joe and I began dating, we often spoke of the “Ruth and Naomi” connection because of my living with my mom to assist her prior to my marriage to Joe. In the Bible, one of the verses Ruth speaks to Naomi is one whose words I have also spoken to Joe: “Your people will be my people.” For more than forty years, these dear ones were “his people” and his daughter’s “people.” Therefore, they are part of my circle now as well, and I am thankful that there is a connection there that is ongoing.

We live in the house where my husband and his first wife lived. We received adamant counsel from some friends to buy a new house, new furniture, new everything. We received adamant counsel on the other side as well. We chose what worked for us. I’m too practical to toss aside a beautiful home that serves our purpose and our location well. As a gift, I’ve been given amazing neighbors who have welcomed me with open arms! An even greater benefit is that Joe and I have had fun “repurposing” some of the furniture to new areas of the house. We’ve become HGTV groupies, gathering the latest ideas to help us “tweak” the next room in the house. In our bedroom, we got a new mattress and box springs, and we rearranged the room to make it “ours.” We followed this pattern in the living room, dining room, and family room as well. Our dishes were a wedding gift from my mom and brother, and the contents of the kitchen cupboards reflect our streamlined style of organization.

As for church, we attend the church where Joe has a been an active member for many years. I love the church and am now a member there also. Perhaps because these dear people knew Joe’s first wife so well, it is taking a little longer to forge lasting relationships there. Additionally, I have cut way back on my involvement because adjusting to married life was thrown a curve ball when both of us spent several weeks (as in seven, in my case) sick with colds and flu, and I have found that I like the role of wife far better than any other role I could add into my schedule just for the sake of being busy!

Here’s the bottom line: It was not a surprise to me that my husband was married before. I came into this knowing that there would be changes, adjustments, and new ways of doing things. But I also spoke my promised vows at the wedding from a heart that knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the words of Psalm 118:23 were true: “This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” I love Joe Henderson, and I know that Joe Henderson loves me. And that turns every question mark that has arisen in this first two-thirds of this first year of marriage into giant exclamation points of God’s grace!

Recipe: “Come on Over” Salad (and Dressing)

It’s currently 85° in central Indiana, making it a perfect time to call a friend and say, “Come on over for a fresh summer salad!” However, in the spirit of honesty, the first friend I invited to enjoy this salad out our deck with me was my husband—mostly because I needed to get some pictures for this post! This is a great, no-fuss salad that probably seems too simple to need a recipe for, but my husband tells me that the dressing recipe alone is worth it all, and I think the arrangement of the ingredients is what makes this extra fun! So here you go!

But first, a disclaimer/explanation: I dislike salad dressings…all of them…and eat my salad “as is.” That’s probably why I always forget to buy salad dressing at the store and why I had to come up with a quick “stuff-I-already-have-on-hand” recipe of my own! So here’s the biggest tip I have for you on this recipe: Whatever spices you use to marinate or grill your meat should be added to your dressing—the “marriage” of flavors across the meal is a very pleasant result!

“Come on Over” Salad (and Dressing)

Prep time: 30 minutes-ish
Cooking time (chicken): 25–30 minutes-ish
Serves: 2
From the kitchen of Brenda Henderson

Ingredients (salad for two):

  • 1 red tomato, sliced and cubed
  • 3 stalks of celery, sliced and cubed
  • 10 mini carrots, sliced and cubed
  • 1/3 cucumber, sliced and cubed
  • 2 slices onion, sliced and cubed
  • 1 clementine, sectioned, then sliced (approx. 3 slices per section)
  • Green leafy lettuce (approximately 3–4 large lettuce leaves per person)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (marinated and seasoned to taste)

Directions (salad):

  1. A few hours before cooking the chicken breasts, marinate them in the dressing recipe below by simply placing the chicken breasts in an airtight container and pouring the salad dressing over the top. Cover. Place the container in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
  2. Prepare vegetables as described in the ingredient list. DO NOT MIX. These may be prepared ahead of time and kept cool in individual sandwich bags or airtight containers.
  3. Thirty minutes prior to meal time,** cook chicken on stove top or on grill. (Approximately 10 minutes per side, using medium-high heat.)
  4. Arrange all vegetables but the lettuce in small, separate mounds around the outside of each person’s plate. Try to alternate colors to bring out the variety of colors used (see photo).
  5. In the remaining open space at the center of the plate, shred or cut the lettuce to create a “bed” for the chicken.
  6. Place grilled chicken in the center of the bed of lettuce and serve. (Note: You may serve the chicken breast whole or dice into half-inch squares for bite-sized pieces.) Guests may blend ingredients together and add their own dressing.

**You may wish to serve the chicken cold, in which case you may cook it ahead of time and cut it into half-inch squares to place on the bed of lettuce. (Cold chicken is best served in cubes rather than as a whole chicken breast.)

Ingredients (salad dressing for two people; duplicate recipe for marinade for two chicken breasts):

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice (fresh-squeezed or bottled)

NOTE: The remaining ingredients are the spices we enjoy. Feel free to substitute these with your own favorites!

  • 1 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning (optional, available at Sam’s Club)
  • ½ tsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

Directions (salad dressing and marinade):

  1. Mix together duplicate recipes in separate glass jars or dressing cruets.
  2. Pour one completed recipe over chicken breasts to marinate prior to cooking.
  3. Serve the second completed recipe with salad at the meal. (For a fun twist, I like to place a one-serving recipe of this dressing in a mini “Mason Jar” and have it above the fork at each place setting.)

Happy entertaining!


Be sure to watch for my next post, “My First Year As a Second Wife.” I am sharing some of the joys and exciting transitions that God has entrusted to me these past (almost) nine months, and I encourage you to watch for this helpful, Joe-approved article!

Would you like to receive these posts in your Inbox? We won’t spam you! You will only receive e-mails from us when a new post appears on the blog. Click here to subscribe.

Guiding Lights in the Dark

The Captain’s Corner

It’s a dark, murky, rainy night. The cockpit crew members are intently following the flight instruments while descending on the approach to landing. Outside the windshield is nothing but blackness. At two hundred feet above the ground, the co-pilot is now looking outside the cockpit: “I have the lights,” he calls out.

The pilot looks up from her instrument panel and quickly discerns the bright approach lights leading to the runway.

“Lights in sight. Landing,” the pilot states.

The landing is accomplished safely through the final guidance of the approach lights extending a half mile out from the end of the runway.

You may wonder what these lights look like from the viewpoint of those in cockpit. Rows of red and white lights looking like rungs of a ladder are laid out one after another, starting from the end of the runway. About one-third of the way back from this point a horizontal row of lights—designed to show that the runway is fast approaching—extends beyond the vertical rows, forming the appearance of a lowercase letter T. This arrangement of lights is the same across the world. By simply following these guiding lights, a pilot can easily recognize the approach of a runway that he or she has never landed on before.

What I find fascinating and meaningful about this standardized system of lights is not their color or brightness but their configuration. The approach light system is shaped like a cross, pointing toward the end of the runway. This reminds me of Christ’s words in John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Hymnwriter Jessie Pounds affirms this truth with her hymn, “The Way of the Cross Leads Home” (public domain):

I must needs go home by the way of the cross,
There’s no other way but this;
I shall ne’er get sight of the Gates of Light,
If the way of the cross I miss.

The way of the cross leads home,
The way of the cross leads home;
It is sweet to know, as I onward go,
The way of the cross leads home.

I must needs go on in the blood-sprinkled way,
The path that the Savior trod,
If I ever climb to the heights sublime,
Where the soul is at home with God.

Then I bid farewell to the way of the world,
To walk in it nevermore;
For my Lord says, “Come,” and I seek my home,
Where He waits at the open door.

What a wonderful truth from these guiding lights in the dark!


Joe Henderson, Brenda’s husband, is a retired international airline captain and now blogs in “The Captain’s Corner” on a regular basis.

Be sure to join us back here on Thursday for one of Brenda’s “Come on Over” recipes for entertaining.

Would you like to receive these posts in your Inbox? We won’t spam you! You will only receive e-mails from us when a new post appears on the blog. Click here to subscribe.

But I’m Not a Mom

This post first appeared on the blog on May 9, 2014 and again on May 6, 2016. Though I have removed one paragraph and tweaked a few words because my marital status has changed since the original post, my prayer is that it will once again serve as a reminder to all of us this Mother’s Day weekend.


With my sweet mama, whom I love, admire, and respect!

There is only one way for single and childless women to view Mother’s Day—the right way. There is no other option. So what is the right way? Let me partially answer that by first sharing what it is not.

On my sister Marcia’s birthday, it would be foolish for me to be upset, stay home from her birthday celebration to watch a sad movie, and eat ginormous amounts of Hot Tamales (my comfort food of choice) just because the celebration isn’t about me.

On my sister Karen’s wedding anniversary, it would have been obnoxious for me to have written a blog post in the years prior to my own marriage, asking the world to stop celebrating wedding anniversaries just because I didn’t have one to celebrate and telling them to be sensitive to my lack in their time of celebration.

Therefore, my single friends and friends without children, this coming Sunday, let’s celebrate our own mothers as well as mothers everywhere for the amazing work that they do. Do you seriously think that when the pastor of the church has mothers stand up to recognize them for their all-too-often thankless role in shaping the generation of the future that your spiritual leader is, in actuality, saying, “What I really want you to do is turn around and take note of all the women not standing and inwardly laugh hysterically that there must be something horribly wrong with them since they are either childless or, worse yet, without a spouse altogether”?

As harsh as it may sound, get over yourself. This is not about you. [And in you, I include me!]

Too often, as singles or as those without children, we turn situation after situation into what we think is a time of “permissible whining” because we are spouseless or childless. Well, stop it! Right now! Because whining is not permissible, and it is not attractive!

We say that we trust God’s leading, but then we fail to trust Him enough to obey His commands:

“Do everything [yes, everything!] without grumbling….” —Philippians 2:14, NIV

“Give thanks in all [yes, all] circumstances….” —I Thessalonians 5:18, NIV

“Rejoice [yes, rejoice] with those who rejoice….” —Romans 12:15, NIV

WAIT! Don’t say it yet! Because I know what some of you are thinking: “But, Brenda, the second half of that last verse you posted reminds believers to ‘mourn with those who mourn.’ So I expect the street to go both ways!”

And you would be right. It should go both ways. But what if it doesn’t? Does that excuse you from rejoicing on their behalf, particularly, in this setting, as they rejoice in the role of motherhood? You know the answer.

So is it wrong to be sad that you are without a spouse or that you still don’t have children after many years of trying and praying for a child? Of course not. Just remember to keep it a desire and not a demand!

And more importantly, remember to rejoice with those who have been given what you long for. Focus on others this weekend. Applaud those amazing females when they stand in church during their far-too-brief moment of recognition! Look beyond your own garden and see the beautiful array of flowers that we all get the opportunity to celebrate this weekend!

I’m throwing in this final paragraph, even though it may seem to slightly contradict all of the above…well…because I can! One of my nieces calls me or texts me every year on Mother’s Day and thanks me for being “a woman of influence” in her life, knowing that my desire for motherhood is not one that will ever be fulfilled at this point and choosing to lift me up on a day when the evil ick whispers in my ear more often than he should be allowed to do! So let me encourage you—both married women and single women—to think of a single woman or a childless woman you could encourage this weekend by thanking her for her influence in your life. No, you’re not trying to make it a “substitute Mother’s Day” celebration for her—she’s not a mom. You are simply using this widely celebrated weekend that honors mothers as an impetus to celebrate women who have impacted your life! (In the process, it just may serve as a means to remind you that you’re not the only one who is not a mom.)

The bottom line? To my friends and family who are moms, I wish you the most joyful of all Mother’s Days! To my friends who, like myself, are not moms, I wish you a day of joy as you look outward and celebrate those who are!


Be sure to join us back here next Tuesday for another installment of The Captain’s Corner!

Would you like to receive these posts in your Inbox? We won’t spam you! You will only receive e-mails from us when a new post appears on the blog. Click here to subscribe.

“Come on Over” Recipe

Okay, so I’ve always been honest with you. Really honest. So I’m warning you from the start that this is not your average, everyday “recipe.” In fact, this week’s “Come on Over” recipe for entertaining and meal ideas was supposed to be for a yummy summer salad and my own homemade dressing. That recipe will wait for a future blog post. This one…well, I need to share it with you right away. You can thank me later!

This week’s recipe is not edible. Nor is it original with me. In fact, there are literally thousands of DIY recipes online for this concoction. I heard about it from a relative whose office staff utilizes it, and I simply had to try it after hearing about its “effectiveness!” Let me just cut to the chase on this one, because there is no simple way to further procrastinate discussing this or sharing this any longer.

When you say to someone, “Come on over,” whether it’s for a meal, a yummy snack, a dessert, or all of the above, he or she will most likely need to make a little trip to use the facilities available in the restroom in your home. And well, sometimes, things happen, and—well, odors linger. [Oh my heart, my mother is going to blush at the very thought of my discussing this in a blog post! I know this because I am already blushing as I simply type the words!] As a gracious hostess whose desire is to make her guests feel comfortable and relaxed, you want to have “preventative” sprays, candles, or other good-fragrance-making tools readily available to help your guests avoid embarrassment.

The original product on which today’s recipe is based is undoubtedly the best there is. It’s called Poo-Pourri Before-You-Go Toilet Spray. It’s available on their website or via Amazon, here. Compared to other sprays, it’s not horribly expensive, so you may want to avoid the homemade version and just order yours online. However, here’s the simple, inexpensive recipe for making your own:

“Come on Over” Bathroom Spray

Compiled from Other Suggested Recipes and Shared by Brenda Henderson

Items and Ingredients:

  • 1 small spray bottle ($1.00 at the Dollar Tree)
  • 22 drops of the essential oil of your choice (ex., Thieves, Wild Orange, Lavender, etc.)
  • 2 TBSP rubbing alcohol
  • Distilled water
  • Optional: mini chalkboard; chalk pen


  1. Drop 22 drops of the essential oil of your choice into the spray bottle.
  2. Add 2 TBSP rubbing alcohol.
  3. Gently swirl open bottle to mix well.
  4. Fill almost to top with distilled water. (I use the water from the dispenser on our refrigerator door.)
  5. Place cap on bottle and shake well. (When it’s mixed well, it’s “cloudy.”)
  6. Optional: Make a mini chalkboard sign to explain how to use it. You could just as easily print the “directions” out on a piece of paper and frame them in a cute decorative frame to set next to the spray bottle.

Basically, before you “use the facilities,” you spray the mixture about three or four times directly onto the water in the bowl. When you’ve completed the “task,” you’re done, with no lingering odors or harsh fumes to announce that you were there! We set ours directly on the lid so that people will be able to see it (and use it) before it’s too late.

So there you have it: your very own DIY version of Poo-Pourri®!

You’re welcome.

Now…let’s change the subject. And please, please, please come back to Petals from the Basket in the future for truly devotional blog posts and for some honest-to-goodness delicious “Come on Over” recipes!

Check Your Attitude

The Captain’s Corner

“First, check your attitude indicator,” our flight instructors would admonish us. As students who were learning to fly, we were being trained to “fly blind,” preparing for the times when we would be in the midst of clouds, unable to see the true horizon. The attitude indicator, central in the midst of the myriad of dials on the cockpit’s instrument panel, “is an instrument used in an aircraft to inform the pilot of the orientation of the aircraft relative to Earth’s horizon” (Wikipedia). By moving the controls correctly and checking the visual of the airplane on the screen against the instrument’s artificial horizon, the pilot could obtain the desired flight path. So if our attitude was right—and this was critical—all other elements of flying (such as altitude, air speed, climb and descent, and course direction) would be correct.

Just as in instrument flying, our attitude in life (our outlook, viewpoint, or behavior) can be a benefit or a “blister!” We’ve all encountered someone who had “an attitude”—as a difficult or harsh outlook is often described. We’ve also been helped by and have appreciated people who have had a great attitude. Scripture repeatedly describes our heart attitude as being central to our everyday life; therefore, it is an important element of who we are. Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV) states: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

Just as the attitude indicator in the plane requires constant checking to keep the plane on course, our heart’s attitude needs frequent attention and correction. We are admonished in Proverbs 4:23 (NKJV): “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” The Bible provides many verses that we can pray back to the Lord when seeking His guidance for our heart attitudes. For example:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10, KJV).

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14, NKJV).

Remember: A merry heart does good like a medicine (Proverbs 17:22); a contented heart is of great value (1 Timothy 6:6); and a pure heart is priceless (2 Timothy 2:22). So I have only one question for you: How’s your attitude?


Joe Henderson, Brenda’s husband, is a retired international airline captain and now blogs in “The Captain’s Corner” on a regular basis.

Be sure to join us back here on Thursday for another “Come on Over” Recipe: “Come on Over Salad.”

Would you like to receive these posts in your Inbox? We won’t spam you! You will only receive e-mails from us when a new post appears on the blog. Click here to subscribe.

And the Award for Outstanding Graduate Goes to…

As I opened the alumni newsletter from my alma mater, I gave a quick glance to its contents and landed on the story of that month’s featured graduate. Oh, his accomplishments were noteworthy, the implied level of his salary enviable, the suit and tie he chose for the photo shoot impeccable, and, I must confess, his recognition well deserved. But as I finished the article, I sighed one of those out-loud, close-to-asthmatic-sounding sighs, wishing, as I did nearly every month, that once, just once, the featured graduate wouldn’t be selected because of his or her salary, business achievements or title, or industry-specific notoriety.

Nope. I want the featured graduates to be school teachers who have simply shown up, cared, taught, listened to, and loved their students every school day for the last fifteen years. I want the featured graduate to be the guy who used his degree to get his desired job, regardless of the salary, and who mows lawns on the weekends as a gift to three of the widows from his church. I want the featured graduate to be the husband who faithfully loves his wife, the wife who faithfully loves her husband, and the parents who are shedding tears and just hoping that, by the grace of God, they’re doing it right.

I want the featured graduates to be my sisters, my brother, my friends. You know—people who wake up, give their all, give some more, and keep growing in the knowledge of how God is using them where they are to be who they were meant to be and who they are able to be. Yes, the business leaders are great examples too, but show us people like us. People who don’t get awards for doing the right thing when no one is watching. People who won’t hear thunderous applause for keeping the house clean, getting to work on time, holding the hand of a sick child or parent, or rocking a child into the wee hours of the morning—for the fifth night in a row.

These people, the “ordinary” graduates, are heroes worthy of feature articles, yet you as the reader and I as the writer both know that it’s not likely to happen. But colleges, universities, schools, look around at your constituency. It includes the ordinary folks doing ordinary things in ordinary—and occasionally extraordinary—ways. These are the role models, the examples, the feature stories who will touch the lives of your students. These are the moms, the dads, the Sunday school teachers, the caregivers who will most greatly impact your students.

I’m not saying that business leaders, legislators, and high-ranking officials should not be featured. I’m just reminding you…no, I’m imploring you to remember…that they are only a fraction of the graduates who are excelling at what they’ve been called to do—no matter what that role may be.

So to the teachers, the moms, the dads, the aunts, the uncles, the church musicians, the community workers, the nurses, the doctors, the bus drivers, the small business owners, the guy whose name fades into the woodwork, and the girl whose name seems unknown, remember that Jesus Himself said toward the end of His life, when speaking to God the Father, the words that every graduate should be featured for being able to say, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4, NKJV). Now that is a front-page-worthy life worth living!

Recipe: “Come on Over” Mini Meatloaf (and Meal Idea)

My mom knows that I say this, because she says the same thing: my mom did not make good meatloaf when I was a child, so I grew up disliking it. Only recently did I learn to enjoy it, and after gathering tidbits of helpful hints from friends, tweaking various elements from multiple sources, and creating my own unique recipe, I can tell you that this is pretty much the favorite meal at our house! In fact, Tuesday night we had this very meal, and Joe (my husband, who previously was not a major meatloaf fan himself) said, “I think if there were a TV show named Meals to Die For, this recipe would win!” (Um…love him!) Additionally, he often says that I should sell the sauce by the gallon and basically states that he would buy every gallon! Now that, my friends, makes this a meal worth blogging about, worth making, and worth saying to friends, “Come on over for some seriously tasty meatloaf!”

So here’s the point of this recipe: make it ahead in small loaf tins; freeze it; put it in the oven one hour before your meal (directly from the freezer), and enjoy a meal that you can serve to any age group at just about any time! Be sure to read the remainder of the blog post following the recipe. I share some serving ideas and entertaining thoughts to truly make this a crowd favorite!

“Come on Over” Mini Meatloaf

Prep time: 30 minutes-ish
Cooking time: 60–70 minutes, 350°
Serves: 8 (simply cut the recipe in half to make 4 Mini Meatloaves)
From the kitchen of Brenda Henderson


Mini Meatloaf:

  • (Cooking spray to grease the loaf tins)
  • 2 lbs. ground beef (80/20 or 90/10…it needs a little fat in it!)
  • 2 ¼” slices of large onion, diced (optional)
  • 1 ½ cup Panko (or use croutons, place in plastic bag, and crush with a rolling pin)
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk

Sauce (heat and drizzle over the Mini Meatloaves just prior to serving):

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper


  1. Use cooking spray to lightly grease the sides and bottoms of eight miniature loaf tins (like those that are used for bread). In a large bowl, add the Mini Meatloaf ingredients in the order in which they appear on the Ingredients list above, using your hands and/or a large wooden spoon to thoroughly mix them together.
  2. Divide the mixture evenly into eight oval “loaves” and place them in the miniature loaf tins, “tweaking” the shape so that they fit securely in the tins. Cover each tin securely with plastic wrap (such as Saran® Wrap) and place each of them in the freezer.
  3. After the Mini Meatloaves are fully frozen (at least overnight), remove them from their tins and store them in an airtight container (I separate mine with waxed paper or parchment paper). DO NOT THAW BEFORE BAKING!
  4. To bake: Place frozen loaves on a cookie sheet (evenly spaced for best results). Bake at 350°— 8 loaves, 70 minutes (1 hour, ten minutes); 4 loaves, 60 minutes (one hour). Remove from oven, plate the Mini Meatloaves (do this in the kitchen) on each guest’s dinner plate, and drizzle with the heated sauce mixture. Optional: plate the side dishes as well and serve the entire meal “plated.”

Meal Idea:

Our favorite side dish for this (official hat tip to our friends Terry and Diana for this one) is to serve a baked potato with the Mini Meatloaves. Using one potato per guest, place the potatoes on a cookie sheet; they cook the exact same time and at the exact same temperature as the Mini Meatloaves, making your before-the-meal preparations minimal. In fact, if space allows, you can bake them together on the same cookie sheet. Here’s how I do my baked potatoes (though it is not original with her, my sister Karen receives the hat tip for sharing this one with me):

  1. Wash potatoes.
  2. Use a dinner fork to poke each potato in about 6–8 places around the potato.
  3. Lightly spray the outside of the potato with cooking spray (or rub with vegetable oil or olive oil).
  4. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
  5. Bake on a cookie sheet for one hour at 350°.

(These are soooo good! Slightly crispy outside and perfectly done inside.)

Optional toppings include: butter, sour cream, toppings (chives, bacon pieces, onion, crushed red pepper etc.), salt, and pepper. I recommend you keep it simple and only have a minimum of these options available on the dinner table.

Feel free to add a side salad, a small dish of applesauce, green beans, dinner rolls, or another side dish of your choosing. But always remember that simple is best. No more than three items on the plate is a great rule to follow!

Because this “down-home” meal is pretty filling, we generally pass a dish of miniature candy bars or a plate of cookies for dessert!

The wonderful thing about preparing the main course ahead of time (the Mini Meatloaves keep well in the freezer 4–6 weeks) is that it allows you to follow one of my most important rules for entertaining:

Spend more time with your guests than you spend in the kitchen!


Petals from the Basket is a devotional blog that provides ideas and resources for everyday Christian living. I haven’t forgotten that! Joe and I have both been uncommonly sick in these first months of 2017 and between that and travel to visit family members, we’ve been a little negligent in keeping the blog posts consistent with our desired timing! Our general schedule goal is to post one or two devotional blogs a week and to include a “Come on Over” recipe idea on Thursdays. We know you have thousands of blog options to choose from, so we thank you for joining us at Petals from the Basket and hope that you’ll consider reading our posts here on a regular basis!

Recipe: “Come on Over” Cobbler

So here’s the wonderful thing about hospitality—you don’t have to have people over for a meal! During a time when my food budget barely allowed enough to feed me, let alone a table full of guests, my sweet mama lovingly reminded me that having guests over at 7:00 p.m. for dessert and games can be a wonderful—and inexpensive—way to entertain. She made this dessert often when I was growing up, so even though it’s not original with her, I’m crediting her for sharing this recipe with me.

This week’s “Come on Over” recipe is for one of my favorite “go-to” desserts. In fact, it’s so easy that I’ve been known to spontaneously invite someone over after an event and make it once we got home, and then we played a game or just enjoyed talking until it was ready! It’s perfect for a “dessert-only” night or a midafternoon gathering (served with coffee, tea, or water), and it’s also the perfect finish to a “Come on Over” meal! (When I serve it at the end of a meal, I have it ready to go and put it in the oven right before we sit down to eat. That way it’s piping hot when we’re ready for dessert!) And no, this isn’t truly a cobbler in the technical sense, but I call it that, nonetheless!

“Come on Over” Cobbler

Prep time: 7 minutes-ish
Cooking time: 30 minutes-ish, 350°
Serves: 8–12 (depending on how big you slice/scoop the pieces)
From the kitchen of Brenda Henderson, shared with me by my mom, Lorraine Strohbehn


  • 2 20-ounce cans of pie filling(s) of choice (or you can make your own from scratch)

We usually like apple or cherry, so my husband thought this would be a fun time to use both!

  • 1 stick Imperial margarine, room temperature (any brand is fine; I just always bake with Imperial)
  • 1 box packaged cake mix (yellow, white, or spice)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Pour canned pie filling into an 11 x 7 pan (or similar size; I sometimes divide the ingredients in half and use two different pie plates to bake them in).
  3. In a separate bowl, cut margarine into dry cake mix, using pastry cutter or fork until thoroughly combined.
  4. Sprinkle cake mix/margarine mixture over the top of the pie filling and spread evenly so all the pie filling is covered.
  5. Place pan on cooking sheet (it often runs over!).
  6. Bake 30–35 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes-ish and then cut into pieces or scoop onto plates and serve alone (that’s how we like it best) or with a small scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Stores well, tastes great cold, and reheats easily in the microwave. And…I confess…it’s good for breakfast the morning after you’ve had guests! (Joe eats his in a bowl with a little vanilla coffee creamer poured over the top of it. Not my thing, so I eat mine plain, but hey, when you’re grownups, and you’re eating cobbler for breakfast, you can eat it however you want to!)

Enjoy! I certainly loved reading your e-mails and messages about the Come on Over Chicken many of you made last week, so I’d love to hear your follow-up reports in the comments below once you’ve tried THIS recipe and have said to friends or family, “Come on over!”