Christmas early?

I have never been one to begin celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving, and never ever before Halloween.  I was always a one holiday at a time girl.  However…this year, I am reconsidering.  If Christmas is the most important holiday…arguably over Easter, because while Christ was resurrected on Easter Sunday, He wouldn’t have walked the earth if He wasn’t born.  But God could do anything you say…yes, of course He could, which is why I put arguably.  I digress.  😉  Without Christ we would have nothing, be nothing, know nothing, have no hope, have no future.  While the world is falling apart…near and far, I may have changed my opinion about starting the holidays too soon.  Perhaps celebrating Christmas as early as you want, or even ALL YEAR, may be just what we need to do.  We have a Savior.  He should be rejoiced.  And we should wait expectantly for Him to come back again.  So…let the Christmas music play and have hope in Christ!

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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.

🙂

6.19.13

Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.

1 Timothy 6:18

 

My youngest turned 5 today!  It is a surreal thing having your “baby” turn 5.  He is now a whole hand old.  He represents that all my children are no longer babies.  This verse reminds me of him.  He may be rotten a lot of the time, but he is always generous and willing to share.  His time (I know at 5 that sounds odd, but it is true) and his possessions.  Already quite a few of his gifts are doled out to his siblings.  I pray he keeps that trait!  

Decorating

I had so much fun preparing for our family Christmas this year!  One twist I did for place settings was to make a favor with the guests name on it and place it on the plate.  So each person had a favor and a “place card”, so to speak.  The favor was a jar of cookie mix.  Cowboy chocolate chip for the guys and either M&M or pecan muffin mix for the ladies.  I ran out of jars and WalMart did as well, but they had cute Christmas tree ones, so some people had those instead.  I liked them all and really enjoyed making them.  🙂

I also wanted to post a picture of Joshua’s park since I told you we would make it festive.  🙂