Happy Monday!

Good morning!

I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend!  He is Risen!!!  And because of that we have a way to eternal life with Him.  🙂  Our weekend was very special and fun…and warm (yay!)  I ate WAYYY too much, put back on a couple of pounds that were lost with hard work…but that’s ok…back to it today.  I tried a few new yummy recipes that I will share:

The first is super easy…roasted cauliflower…my kids are not big fans of cauliflower, but this was a hit!  Just cut cauliflower into large chunks.  Drizzle with olive oil (enough to toss the cauliflower in).  Lay on a tin foiled baking and sprinkle with sea salt and chili powder.  Cover with tin foil and roast for 15 minutes on 450.  After 15 minutes, uncover and continue roasting for 35 minutes.  Soooo yummy!

Another easy one…lightly oil a baking sheet and place asparagus on it.  Sprinkle asparagus with salt.  Wrap in pairs with 1 slice of bacon.  Broil for 10-15 minutes.

The last one for today is baby portobello mushrooms stuffed with crab and cheese.  That recipe can be found here:  https://www.hy-vee.com/meal-solutions/recipes/Cheesy-Crab-Stuffed-Mushrooms-R1513.aspx  This was my personal favorite!  Really, with all that cheese…how could it not be.  😉

Enjoy the rest of the week!

🙂

 

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas…

And all through the house, not a creature was stirring…except the puking youngest child… *sigh*

And so came crashing down the plans for our yearly Christmas brunch…*sigh*

We had great plans, which we hope to piece together throughout the week once all are strong and healthy again.  🙂  The kids had a skit about The Legend of the Candy Cane, we had brunch planned including such yummy things as quiche, she crab soup, crab cakes monkey bread, meatballs, champagne, desserts and other delectibles.  We had a new fireplace to share the “warmth” of Christmas.  😉  Not to mention gifts galore.

You know what though?… my kids (and myself, as well) were most disappointed about not getting together with the people!  We love being with our extended family!  We have been talking all month about how Christmas isn’t about all the frills and gifts, but solely the rejoicing of Christ’s birth.  The birth of our Savior!  Without this glorious day we would have no hope and no future.  And so, tomorrow, we will focus on that even more with our quiet and subdued day warding off illness.  I will miss seeing my family and serving them brunch and giving them gifts…but that will come soon enough.  Tomorrow we will just huddle together as a family and rejoice our king!  And if the kids are well enough, we will spoil them a bit with all the feast foods that are left to be eaten by someone…  😉  Oh yes and there will be presents of course.

Speaking of glorious, we just had an amazing Christmas Eve service at our church that was truly glorious.  Seriously, I would have paid money to see the worship team…their performance was amazing!  And the hope of Christ was clearly stated throughout the evening.

The hope of Christ gives such peace and joy!  I see it in my kids constantly.  They have such a wonderful perspective on things.  When we go to visit Joshua, it is a place of good memories for them.  The cemetery is just another playground where they are able to visit Joshua’s place, decorate it and throw in a game of tag.

I am going to repeat the quote I posted last time, because it is just meaningful to me.  Life changes, love remains…No matter what life throws at us…from a sick kid to a horrible loss…love remains.  Love is the most important thing we can give and receive.  Love from one another is an amazing thing.  Love from Christ, our King and Savior, trumps everything.

Christmas

The days surrounding Christmas had ups and downs this year, but one thing that NEVER changes is that Christ came down all those years ago to be born here on earth, leaving His perfect Kingdom, so that He could save our lives.  That is THE meaning of Christmas.  That is the unchanging good news.  That is why despite sadness we have joy!

Joshua’s birthday celebration:

Christmas Brunch, before eating commenced:

Some yummy recipes this year included banana cream cheese stuffed baked french toast, blueberry white chocolate coffeecake, scones, quiche and about a million other things.  😉

Here are a couple desserts after they were dug into…red velvet cheesecake and butterfinger bars:

The butterfinger bars were very good…a little difficult to cut and the recipe is surely for a small pan (I used a 9×13 and had to double and it was still a stretch!)

The red velvet cheesecake I couldn’t try, because of the red dye, so I am not sure how it turned out, but it looked good!  😉

BUTTERFINGER COOKIE DOUGH CHEESECAKE BARS

YIELD: Makes one 8×8 pan

Ingredients:

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE LAYER

  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup flour plus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips + 1/2 cup for top
  • 5 Butterfinger bars, king size

CHEESECAKE LAYER

  • 8oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

PREPARATION:

Create a sling by lining the pan with foil so that there is a one inch overhang on each side. Cover foil with bake spray. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

TO MAKE CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE LAYER

Melt butter and let cool to warm. Add in brown sugar and mix to combine. Add in egg and vanilla extract and mix to combine.  Add in flour and fold to combine. Add in 1 cup of mini chocolate chips and fold to combine. Pour mixture into pan; set aside.

TO MAKE CHEESECAKE

Add all ingredients in a bowl and beat until blended. Set aside.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Press 3/4 of cookie mixture into pan. Place Butterfinger bars side-by-side on top of cookie dough. Pour cheesecake mixture on top. Crumble remaining cookie dough sprinkle on top of cheesecake layer along with remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips all over top.
  2. Transfer pan to oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees F. Remove from oven set on wire rack to cool.

 

RED VELVET CHEESECAKE

Yield: 12 to 14 servings

Prep Time: 1 hr + cooling and chill times

Cook Time: 1 hr, 15 min

CHEESECAKE:
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

RED VELVET CAKE:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup (two 1-ounce bottles) red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Prepare the cheesecake layer: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.  In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the cream cheese- blend until it is nice and smooth and creamy. Mix in sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Finally, mix in sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes. It should be set to the touch and not jiggly. Remove the cheesecake  and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. When it has cooled, place the pan into the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely. This can be done in several hours- or overnight.

2. Prepare the cake layers: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round metal baking pans (or spray with nonstick baking spray with flour). In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar to the flour mixture. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat for 1 minute, until blended. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans, then invert cakes onto a rack to cool completely.

3. Prepare the frosting: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla until it is smooth and creamy (do not overbeat).

4. Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer into the center of a cake plate or platter. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, take off the sides of the pan, and slide a knife under the parchment to remove the cheesecake from the pan. Peel off the parchment. Measure your cheesecake layer against the cake layers. If the cheesecake layer turns out to be a slightly larger round than your cake, move it to a cutting board and gently shave off some of the exterior of the cheesecake to get it to the same size as your cake layers. Place the cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer. Place the 2nd cake layer on top of the cheesecake.

5. Frost and decorate the cake

Herbie

My uncle, Herbie, is about to turn 60.  My task was to make him a Herbie Love Bug car cake.  Here it is…

 

 

I learned a lot from this cake.  I was too timid in my cutting, so it was a little square and lumpy…but once the fondant is on, there is no going back.  I really had a LOT of fun with the details…they take a long time, but they make the cake.

 

The Birthday Stretch

My daughter officially turned 7 yesterday.  Cannot believe it!  She was a bit confused that after 2 parties, one with the family and one with friends, that she turned 7 on a day with no celebration.  😉  We did give her our gifts and sang to her with a leftover cupcake from her friend party, but  her actual birthday was definitely much lower key than earlier in the week.  I look at her and see how much she is like me when I was her age.  She is beginning to get into music, loves writing and just got her first diary.   Though it is bittersweet watching her grow up, it is definitely a blessing and a wonderful journey.

A peek at her cupcakes:

 

Weekend Fun

We had a pretty fun weekend  🙂  The kids went to pack Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes at church.  I LOVE OCC!  And I love even more that the church is including the youth to partake in giving to other children all over the world.  The kids had a great time serving and loving from afar!

We also had my daughter’s birthday.  I am not sure if I have ever seen her so excited!  She loved every single second of her day and went to sleep happily engrossed in one of several books she received for her special day.  This is her cake:

I love how frosting can cover up fondant mistakes.  I did run out of frosting, so had to improvise on the back.

I stayed away from the yellow dye of the cake, but was cursed by the crescent rolls!  I never even checked the ingredients on those!  I am currently an itchy mess.  😉

Also found out that vanilla may come from a certain place on a beaver…gross!  (Thanks a lot source of info…you know who you are.  😉  )   http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/10/01/beaver-butts-emit-goo-used-for-vanilla-flavoring/

I am choosing to forget that piece of knowledge and hope beyond hope that most still use the good old vanilla bean in making vanilla extract.

My daughter’s friend party is in just a couple days…time to start preparing.

🙂

Cake and Letters

Here is the latest cake.  So funny, when I set it out, everyone thought it was just a bowl of Reeses Pieces.  I made my favorite chocolate cake, chocolate frosting and surrounded it with candy!  The idea is not mine, but it was really fun to make.

On another note, this morning while on the elliptical, I was watching Letters to God.  Highly recommend this movie!  Very touching.

No big news today, just a couple tidbits.  Enjoy your week!

(made for a going away party)