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

Our unchanging God

Let me first say that I love our country.  I may not like what it is turning into, but I am a fan of freedom, and hope that remains for a long time to come.  In a world where tolerance is preached for everything except Christianity, where believing the Bible makes you intolerant, where you are told to embrace what makes you feel good and look out for number one, I have to say I am more a fan of the values the country used to hold dear…values and beliefs that are slipping away.  If there was running water available, I think I would fit perfectly in Little House on the Prairie times; where people didn’t own too much stuff, where people worked an honest day’s work and slept well because of the efforts of the day, where you helped your fellow neighbor even if it was inconvenient, where prayer was a natural thing not just said at mealtimes and church, but throughout the day and without shame.

I am glad that God is unchanging.  I am thankful that he is constant and consistent and His will and views don’t change based on what may feel right at the time.  I praise Him that He loves each person despite their choices.  Not saying that He likes their choices, in fact He hates all sin, mine and yours, but has great love for His people…such love that He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins and suffer while living on earth.

Some interesting tidbits of our country’s history:

* In God We Trust is the official motto of the United States of America

http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/odddayp.html

* teachers at many public schools are not allowed to have a Bible in their desk or pray silently at their desk or wear a chain with a cross on it

“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”

– George Washington

“Congress passed this resolution: “The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.”

– United States Congress 1782

“In regards to this great Book [the Bible], I have but to say it is the best gift God has given to man. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this Book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are found portrayed in it.”

– Abraham Lincoln

* Dwight Eisenhower recieved intercessory prayer that saved his leg from being amputated.

http://books.google.com/books?id=hRBoNJIRhxoC&pg=PA137&lpg=PA137&dq=dwight+eisenhower+prayer+saved+leg&source=bl&ots=G38Qkjbou8&sig=BpzI8evtY5sWe-tBGYs_ZqAr780&hl=en&sa=X&ei=dbcnUK6yH-fo0QHL7ICQDg&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=dwight%20eisenhower%20prayer%20saved%20leg&f=false

http://www.nps.gov/history/museum/exhibits/eise/President/Presidency/EISE8530_prayer2.html

Just a little Sunday morning reading of what is, was and is to come.  🙂

A Unique Family

Our family is unique, just as any in the world.  We have a child in Heaven, one adopted from another country, and two born to us biologically.  All our God’s…He just gives us the opportunity to be blessed by them.  And we are!  Despite Joshua leaving too soon, he remains a forever part of our family and is a continual blessing.  The smiles and hugs I get from my children here on earth are cherished.  As my blog-journey continues, more and more information will be shared about each of my children…none of them came to us easily in our eyes, but the whole time God was working.

We have known many who have lost children at some stage or age.  In the past month and a half we have been given news of 3 born still.  It certainly strikes deep and hits hard, but we know that part of Joshua’s purpose during his short life was to help others going through similar pain, so we embrace them and their stories.  We keep them in heart and prayer.  And we remember.  We remember Joshua, but we also remember God’s promise to never leave us.

Death, especially of a child (regardless of age), is one of life’s hardest trials, in my humble opinion.  God never promised us an easy road, but He does walk all of our rocky roads with us. The days I miss my sweet boy the most I still rejoice, for I know it is selfish of me to wish him with me when he is in The Perfect Place. There are no answers for the pain on this side of Heaven, but we know God is good all the time and His ways are higher than ours.

Each person has trials in this life…they can’t be escaped.  But God is unchanging…He and His ways are perfect.  We need to cling to Him in trials, maybe most especially in trials we don’t understand.