Saturday, November 13, 2010

Airborne!

I love writing from pictures. If I need a little inspiration, it's as close as my nearest .jpg. What does this picture tell us?
-Cheerleading matters. I've spent the last 2 months watching a lot of volleyball. (Sports Moms Unite. You know what it's like.) Imagine what life would be like if there were someone cheering us on every time things got tough. Be that person.
-Coaching matters. What a great feeling to see those you love master a skill or achieve a goal. Who and where do you coach? I'll bet you know how to do something that someone else doesn't. Show them!
-Attitude matters. I see this picture and think "I could never do that." There are some things my 47 year old body just can. Not. Do.  Guess what? The Lord has a path marked out for this 16 year old and He has one for you and me as well. Follow Him and find it. Rejoice in the journey!

Hugs,
Renee

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hook ‘Em Horns


kevin at game You’ve all seen the bumper sticker right? “My Money & My (Son/Daughter) Go to The University of Texas” Although the burnt orange blood skipped my generation, my mom is thrilled to see her grandson carrying on the family tradition. Since I’m a native Texan without an official college affiliation (long story), I’m having fun being a fan.
“Big State U” is a new experience for our family, so far having only experience with kids in Christian liberal arts universities. Kevin has more kids in his dorm than our older 2 had on their entire campus!
I’m happy to report that he is settling in well, keeping his room neat, and studying in the library. He has joined the student organization associated with our church (Reformed University Fellowship or “RUF”) and is going to church. What more could a mom ask for?
Yesterday we paid a visit and got the whole "Horns House” experience in the gym when the women’s volleyball team beat Baylor. I’m not sure when we’ll make a football game, but this game had cheerleaders, the band, and a whole lot of student rowdies! Kevin even gave up his seat in the SOB section (that’s Student Orange Bloods) to sit with the family.
School’s off to a great start, we’re in the midst of volleyball season, and Kristin is about to become our newest driver. That’s what the M’s are up to these days!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Give a Listen: Landfill

27115_388015218999_5961498999_3743405_7920463_n My musical horizons can use a little expanding. If you find yourself, as I did, shopping and singing along to the piped in 70’s bubblegum and realizing “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head? Really? Get a life, Renee!” Where to go for help? Kids of course. Actually in this case not only did I get a bona fide musical treat from my kids’ library, but made a new friend in the process. Maryanna Cannon Sokol used to live in Houston and used to go to church with my oldest and his wife. Our paths kept crossing until our whole family – those launched and those still at home – found ourselves attending shows, watching the progress of her first CD, and saying goodbye as she left for New York City. In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that we M’s acknowledged in her liner notes. How cool is that? I always read the notes to see if I know anyone and if you peruse “Landfill”, well there we are!
Thanks to the magic that is the internet, I don’t have to describe each song. You can go here and have a listen. Some general impressions?
“Two” is ripply and skippy….reminds me of sprinklers and popsicles. Many of the songs just have this happy vibe. I can understand them, hum with them, stay happy in Houston traffic with them.
“Pentameter” -  I teach English. How can I not love a song with lyrics like this? “In my head I play around with words and try to rhyme them in some clever phrase. If I spoke in iambic pentameter would you begin to hear me then?”
Maryanna wrote all the words and music. In “real life” she’s a music therapist, musically trained, and the daughter of musical parents. Is this a case of art imitating life? You decide. Her lyrics speak to regret, loss, love, and friendship.
Of course she’s in a class by her musical self, but if you enjoy Ingrid Michaelson, Jenny Owen Youngs, & Regina Spektor, you’ll feel right at home. These are folksy ballads, not whiny protests but thoughtful observations. She knows how to turn a phrase but don’t let the delicate vocals lull you into complacency. Her moons-and-junes-and-ferris wheels come with a double shot of caffeinated commentary.   Listen to how the simple guitar beginning on “Home” gives way to soaring strings and the reminder that change might be hard, but home can be found in the midst of it. 
While Maryanna’s sweet clear soprano doesn’t get tripped up over the high pretty notes, she can also be a little scary-edgy. Life’s not all sprinklers and popsicles you know.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

10 Reasons Why Nashvillage Is My Favorite

(No, I am not going to post 10 pictures of the world's cutest grandbaby. But I could...)
Spending last week in TN gave us more opportunities for exploring. Although we didn't see evidence of the flooding, the spirit of the city is cheerful and the people as friendly as ever. I'll post links so you can see for yourself.
1. Chihuly at the Frist. If you think art museums aren't "your thing", then give Mr. C a try. If you hear "glass blowing" and think of unicorns and carousels, then prepare yourself for "mind blowing."

2. Couture at The Frist. (Yes, we had a wonderful day at the museum!) Dior, Chanel, Balenciaga...beautiful clothes and beautiful designs.

3. The Firefly Grille: In Green Hills, near the mall, this is one of those fun and funky places where the chef does a seasonal menu. Out of this world! I had blue corn crusted fried shrimp with a tasso beurre blanc, served over creme fraiche mashed potatoes. The salad featured a basil orange vinaigrette. (I'm headed for the kitchen to see if I can recreate.) Our waiter was a drummer, in town to make it big. How local color is that?

4. Monell's: Ever heard of a "meat and 3"? Monell's is a 3, and 4, and 5, and....  The meals are served family style. You get in, get seated, and the bowls and platters start appearing. No menu and no wait. This is a hungry person's southern food dream!

5. Cupcake Collection. Although Monell's desserts are nothing to complain about, we couldn't pass up this little gem just 2 doors down. Wedding Cake, Sweet Potato, Lemon, Cookies and Cream...these folks know their stuff! The Community Coffee was a nice surprise. Guess where the owners are from?  
6. Local Taco. Sylvan Park is another neighborhood worth exploring! Best Tex-Mex we've found in Nashville. Red AND green salsas, fish tacos, cozy outdoor setting. Great place to relax and enjoy lunch. Recommended: green chile mac and cheese, BBQ tacos with chipotle slaw, fish tacos. The Cuban corn was sold out and I want to go back to try it! 

7. The Willow Tree. Next door to The Local Taco on Murphy Rd. When is the last time a store owner introduced herself, gave you a warm welcome, and made you feel right at home? If I hadn't already exhausted my shopping budget, I would have been in serious trouble with these unique gifts and decor items! Only open for 1 week, Lisa Quinn had to find a new location as a result of the flooding at Opry Mills. If you're in town, pay her a visit! There are items here for all ages: babies -to- grandmas. Katie told Josh "You could buy me anything in this store and I'd be happy." Jewelry, florals, frames, art, you name it... I can't wait to go back! 615-383-5639.

8. The Produce Place. Whether you are in the mood to cook (gorgeous fruits and veggies!) or pack for a picnic (smoked chicken salad...pimiento cheese), this little neighborhood market has something for everyone. From ready-made to raw ingredients, you'll find it tucked away. The fresh samples were a nice touch too! Ever had apple pie flavored popcorn? This place is locavore heaven!

9. Sweet Ce-Ce's Frozen Yogurt. The Franklin location is the girliest, cutest, pinkest and greenest shop I've ever been to. Didn't seem to scare the guys off. What's not to love about a self-serve, self-topped dessert extravaganza? Grab a dish, choose a flavor, and go topping wild!

10. Fido  Um...is it any secret that we love our coffee around here? Yes, I'm a proud gold-card-carrying member of a certain worldwide coffee chain, but sometimes local is better. Way better. Coffee plus dessert (we had a raspberry cayenne layer cake. To die for!) plus lunch (fig-feta-shrimp-bacon pizza. Wow.) plus a fun, hip, college crowd. When it comes to Fido... Sit. Stay.


How did I get to 10 already? I may have to do Nashville - part 2!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Almost Finished!

Today we’ve been hanging curtains all over the downstairs. Ok, maybe “we'” isn’t exactly correct. Steve didn’t want to spend his Father’s Day on the honey-do list, so that drill has been whirring like those horns you hear at the World Cup games.
Almost ready to post some pictures!
Oh, all right…here’s a sneak preview:
piano
See the paint cans on the floor? Painting is done! See the white trimmed entrance into what is now our dining room? We joke that we are the only people we know who remodel and put walls in instead of taking them out. See the piano in our entryway? Yes you heard me right, entryway. Why not be a little bit off-center I say? (Especially when there is not another blessed place to put this piano!) Believe it or not, my youngest is just  as happy to play it in the foyer as anywhere else.
That sweet little bundle in the picture is not my piano playing youngest, by the way, but isn’t he cute?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Decorating Dilemmas: It’s Curtains

“We don’t have a panel of judges, we have judges of panels.”
-My sweet husband after hearing the latest critique of the window curtain panels that will be returned to the store.
These didn’t work: ikea curtains
Neither did these: blue curtains
What was I thinking? floral curtains
Not going to add this chocolate: chocolate
Start the Regatta without me: striped

We have beautiful  walls and ceiling (Camelback and Believable Buff, both Sherwin Williams), the furniture isn’t going anywhere, the fireplace is no longer a monstrosity, and the new rug is a keeper. The book cabinets might get a facelift and I just might, gasp, steer away from red white and blue as a color scheme. Stay tuned folks! I have enough decorating adventures to blog about for months. If I had known it would take this long…
Hugs,
Renee

Friday, May 7, 2010

Back in Business!

We have a stove, a sink, a fridge, a microwave, and a dishwasher! All the beautiful comforts of home and I’m one happy cooker. Yesterday I ran into my favorite local used book store and found the same book on the shelf that was waiting for me at the library. What a happy coincidence. It was an autographed copy to boot!  It’s not a brand new book, but since my love for Brennan’s of Houston is no secret, I’m thrilled to add The Kitchen Table to my collection.
The first recipe was incredible. I’m going to spending my summer vacation with this one I can tell! This morning I roasted fresh corn and jalapenos to go into the Corn Pound Cake. (Think “cornbread with honey in it, baked in a loaf pan”).
Next comes the Maque Choux. For you non-Cajuns, it’s a mixture of fresh corn, okra, onion, tomatoes, and peppers. This one is a little more upscale because it features shrimp. You finish it off with some Worcestershire, Tabasco, and a lot of butter! Randy Evans, you are my new best friend.
veggies in skillet
Toast the pound cake.
toasted corn poundcake
Plate and serve. 
shrimp maque choux

One Year Ago Today

 mydress2 Dear Emmeline,
You are the first daughter of a first daughter of a first daughter of a first daughter. You come from a long line of strong, talented, gifted, loving women. Your birth granted me entrance into that wonderful society known as “grandmothers” but you have many others who you won’t meet until you get to heaven.  You have a Nanny (Alice), a Great (Vera), a Grandma (Dorothy), a Grandma (May), and a Grandmommy (Ena). They came from New York, Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, and Arizona. They could quilt, garden, sew, tend, minister, and teach. Their laughs and their laps comforted generations of children.
Emmie, you have a heavenly father who loves you, an earthly father and mother who love you, and a whole slew of aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents who adore you. But your birthday, always close to Mother’s Day, will give me a chance to remind you of the special mothers who came before you.
Love,
Grandmommy

Friday, April 30, 2010

In My Own Little Corner In My Own Little Chair

my chair …I can be whatever I want to be! That tune, from the musical Cinderella, has always been a favorite. Sometimes when life gets a little crazy it’s nice to have a place to run away to, even if it’s right upstairs.
Emmeline, turning 1 in just a few days, has had her world turned upside down because Katie and Josh are moving to a bigger apartment. They know that the end result will be wonderful, but all Emmie knows is that it looks like they are stealing her stuff and waking her up in strange surroundings. The day that Katie forgot the Blankie meant many tears for poor baby girl!
Our kitchen remodel is more than halfway finished. I’m still smiling in spite of the fact that we uncovered termite damage that needed fixing, the leaky upstairs toilet sprang a leak onto the kitchen ceiling and now the floor and tile need fixing up there, and my husband’s truck needed an expensive repair. It’s been the kind of week where I want my own blankie!
Guess what? Mom reminded me that I have two of them. She’s right (moms are like that aren’t they?) When I had surgery a few years ago her church made me a prayer quilt. It’s cheery yellow color reminds me that God is faithful and prayers were answered. Then there is the lovely afghan that Mom knitted for me. I know the hours of love and talent poured into that gift and using it feels like getting a hug from far away.
Emmeline, your mommy and daddy love you. Even when your world is turned upside down, they see the bigger picture. For those of you reading this who might also be a little discombobulated, I pray that whatever your “blankie” might be, that it serves as a reminder of the real people who love you, the ones the Lord has blessed you with. He sees the big picture, even when we don’t.
Hugs,
Renee

Thursday, April 15, 2010

If You Give a Cook a Cabinet

If you give a cook a cabinet, she’ll need to get countertops.
If she gets new countertops, she’ll have to pick out a new sink.
A new sink means a new faucet too!
The new faucet needs to coordinate with the new oven, microwave, and fridge.
The appliances sit in the new cabinets which are going to need knobs and pulls.
If she gets knobs and pulls for the kitchen, she’s going to pick out new ones for the new bathroom cabinet as well.
When she sees that the knobs and pulls match the bathroom faucet, she’s going to realize that the door handles throughout the entire house are a dated, 80’s polished brass and she’ll want updated burnished bronze lever handles.
The new door handles won’t match the (shudder) polished brass ceiling fan, so it will have to go.
The new ceiling fan will have to match the new light fixtures.
The new lights should probably include one for over the sink as well.
A well-lighted sink will look great with the under-cabinet lighting.
But wait! She can’t have under-cabinet lighting unless she gets a new cabinet.
And if you give a cook a cabinet….
hardware

Saturday, April 3, 2010

And We Have a Winner!

ev_confetti My favorite Frazzled Mom wants to celebrate Easter. She’s going to have some fun planning when she gets her new cookbook, Paula Deen Celebrates!, and her new cookbook holder. (Send me your mailing info and I’ll get it right over to James at CSN Stores. ) Thanks to all who helped me kick off my very first giveaway. I hope there are more to come!

Have a blessed day tomorrow. He is risen!

Hugs,

Renee

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hey Y’all, It’s a Giveaway!

I’m not doing any cooking in my now-packed-up-waiting-to-be-demolished kitchen. I can’t wait to see what the new kitchen will look like; it’s pretty exciting! Cabinets and countertops are only the beginning…I’m looking at kitchen tables, dining tables, even  home bars. (Aren’t these beautiful? Knowing us – a home coffee bar would be just our thing! ) One thing I do know, as soon as I’m up and running again, I’ll be getting out the cookbooks and planning something wonderful to celebrate!

How would you like to plan a celebration? I’ll help! Thanks to the good folks at CSN Stores, I’m hosting my very first giveaway. Enter to win  Paula Deen Celebrates!  Let’s throw in  a wrought iron holder as well so you can keep that recipe for Chocolate Molten Lava Cakes close at hand.

clip_image001 PD Cookbook

Required entry: Leave a comment telling me about something you’d like to celebrate.

Extra entries (let me know in separate comments):

*Link to the giveaway in your own blog.

*Follow my blog

Winner will be announced on Saturday!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

How About a Giveaway?

Hey Y'all! I'm learning how to do a giveaway and you can help. Check back early next week for the announcement. Since my kitchen is about to be torn-up big time, I would love to help someone else get cooking. I'm emptying out my fridge and won't be buying any butter or cream for a while. My cooking is about to be put on hold until the remodel is finished. Hmm...I wonder what I'll cook first? Southern fried chicken? Peach cobbler? Meanwhile, I'm having fun planning my first blog giveaway. Talk to you next week!

Hugs,
Renee

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook: Review

steamy-kitchen-cookbook My shelf space is limited so my cookbooks have to earn their spot. The real favorites? Pages steamed and a little warped. Sauce drizzled and stuck in spots. Don’t need to use the index because the page opens automatically, revealing the family favorite. Thanks, Jaden Hair. Steamy Kitchen is hot stuff!
No disappointing recipes, no colossal failures, no missteps that leave me  as frustrated as a shopper with a wayward cart. Her book lives up to its promise of “Asian recipes simple enough for tonight’s dinner.”
I thought the ingredients would be hard to find. My daughters and I enjoyed our trip to the Asian market, scouring the shelves for exotic items with which to begin our far east foray. Guess what? The next week I saw the same things at Kroger. (Except for spring roll wrappers! I learned this lesson the hard way: Authentic wrappers are worth the trip!)
So far we’ve made, and made again:
Shrimp Pad Thai (Why pay for Pei Wei?*)
Mom’s Famous Crispy Egg Rolls (Made these at least 5 times!)
Quick Vietnamese Chicken Pho (Pho-bulous!)
Healthy Chinese Chicken Wraps (Chicken salad minus the mayo. Moist & delicious
Grilled Fish with Kabayaki Sauce (shh…I left off the seaweed shred garnish and no one noticed.) The sauce has 3 ingredients and couldn’t be easier!
Chinese Beef Broccoli (Ever wondered just what’s in that sauce? Now you’ll know.)
Thai Coconut Chicken Curry (This is not like Indian curry. What’s more, you can keep the ingredients on your shelf and throw this together in an instant.)
Thai-style Chicken in Sweet Chili Sauce (Oh my goodness! Colorful, fresh, easy.)
Pan-Fried Tofu with Dark Sweet Soy Sauce (teen girls loved this one)
Chinese Sausage Fried Rice (I didn’t know there was such a thing, but now it’s a favorite. You want authentic? Chinese sausage is the new bacon.)
Ready for a taste? We had these last night and there wasn’t a single bite left over.
Healthy Chinese Chicken Wraps
Honey Mustard Yogurt Vinaigrette: 3 T. honey, 1 T. dijon mustard, 2 T. plain yogurt, 2 T. rice vinegar, 1/2 t. sesame oil, salt
Chinese Chicken Salad: 3/4 lb. cooked chicken in bite sized pieces (I cut up a rotisserie chicken from the deli), 15 or so red seedless grapes (halved), 1 diced celery stalk, 3 T. almond slivers, 1/4 t. Chinese 5 spice powder, salt and pepper
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Mix the salad ingredients. Toss with the dressing. Garnish with arugula or watercress, wrap, and serve.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring (Break) Has Sprung!

em chair
Because I’m told every blog post should communicate something of value, here is what I have learned this week from being “hostess Grandmommy” to Princess Emmeline and her parents.
10. Stock up: Bought diapers, formula, and finger foods.
9. Equip for the trip: Now I own a pack-n-play, stroller, and strap-to-the-chair high chair.
8. Cook in quantity. When you have a house full of company, it’s nice to have leftovers and options. Double quantities of chili, chicken salad, and pastitsio have fed the masses.
7. But you don’t have to do it all! I have a local Greek place where I can pick up pitas and baklava to round things out.
6. Bath time for baby means I get to pick the lotion and bubble bath. Nothing smells sweeter than squeaky clean kiddoes. Lavender Aveeno …nice.
5. If you don’t have a stock of kid-vids on hand, search You Tube. This morning Emmie and I enjoyed Raffi while drinking our morning coffee and milk.
4. I don’t have the toy cabinet stocked, but I do have some rippable magazines and a stash of tupperware. What more do we need?
3. Paper plates and plastic forks come in handy. Who wants to do dishes when there are babies to rock?
2. Part of the fun of being grandmommy is shopping. I found out that HEB (my favorite grocery store) sells adorable grosgrain ribbon bows for $1!
1. Enjoy every minute! Life is full of blessings to be thankful for, no matter what season of life you are currently in.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Kitchen Kapers: Before

This might be the blog-equivalent of really letting my hair down, but I’m all about truth and honesty. (Ok, I highlight. So there.)
Some of you know that we are in the midst of a huge kitchen project. Well maybe “midst” is too strong a word, because last week we found out that our kitchen cabinets were not “in-production”, rather they were “not in production.” What a difference a hyphen makes!
I’ve been warned to expect these little glitches and that’s ok. When our company comes in 6 days, we’ll have a spot to cook and eat that is not torn up.
Why on earth are we undertaking this little face-lift? (Ok, humor me willya? A new canister set is Botox. We’re somewhere between that and Phyllis Diller territory.) As you can see from the pics below we have a serious shortage of space. (I also have a serious “I can’t keep stuff off my fridge door” issue, but I come by it genetically. Hi Mom.) We also have an oven that has broken for the 3rd time, a fridge that will not hold more than a bottle of tabasco and a quart of half-n-half, and a pantry that was made for a bachelor who lives on Kraft Mac-n-Cheese and Cheerios. Nothing else fits!
You want more reasons? I’ll give you reasons! Two words: Golden Oak. Yes my friends, this kitchen is about to come out of the 80’s for good. I missed much of the worst of the 80s because I was busy changing diapers. Well, all 5 kids are potty-trained; 2 have graduated college and have babies of their own. The 3 still at home love to cook and we are out of room!
So what’s in the works for our little cook-nook? New cabinets, granite countertops, new appliances, reconfiguring the layout, taking out the closet pantry and replacing with a built-in, changing the windows, and turning what was our formal living room into a formal dining room.
Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: All Wrapped Up

M&Ms Oh wait. Anything having to do with chocolate should definitely be “unwrapped” don’t you agree? I almost made my goal of posting a new chocolate recipe every day. Don’t worry –I haven’t run out.

Know what kind of candy this is? I’m fond of telling my students that I have my very own label: Mrs. Mathis’s  candy. This past week, however, I learned a new label for these yummy morsels. Ready? Just turn them over and you can see that they are made for Wonderful Women! 

I had the privilege of sharing a few days last week with some of my fellow women’s ministry leaders in Atlanta (PCA Women in the Church). We had an incredible time of learning about the importance of gospel-driven discipleship. This is the kind of richness that can definitely be tasted (but not quite in the same way as chocolate!).

Do you have some wonderful women in your life? Why not let them know!

Hugs,

Renee

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Caramel Brownies

These brownies are not for the faint of heart. Much discipline and delayed gratification is required in order to resist the siren call, the candy wrapper crackle, the sheer exhaustion that comes from unwrapping all those caramels! But unwrap we must in our relentless pursuit of, what used to be, the pinnacle of brownie perfection. Yes children, gather round while I tell you of a time when caramels weren't automatically included in boxed brownie mixes... Back in the day when we had to unwrap them all ourselves. Uphill. In the snow.

Caramel Brownies
14 oz. pkg of caramels, unwrapped
1/3 c. evaporated milk
1 pkg. German chocolate cake mix
1 c. chopped nuts
1 T. water
1/2 c. butter
1 c. chocolate chips

Combine candy and milk in glass dish and microwave until melted. Keep warm. Combine cake mix, nuts, water, and butter in large bowl until crumbly. Press 1/2 of dough in greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Spread caramel mixture over all. Crumble remaining dough over the top. Bake 15 minutes and cool.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Crazy for Cupcakes

When I was in college I had the pleasure of working as a kitchen helper for a cooking school in Tucson. I don’t think The Tasting Spoon is still around, but I still use and love many of the recipes I collected from my time there. This one is pretty unusual. More like giant chewy chocolate chip cookies than cupcakes, they are still a delicious treat with your morning coffee or an after-school glass of milk.
muffins
Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
1/2 c. soft butter
6 T. white sugar
6 T. brown sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1 egg
1 c. + 2 T. flour
1/2 t. soda
1/2 t. salt
Combine butter, sugars, and vanilla and beat until creamy. Add egg and mix well. Stir in flour, soda, and salt. Spoon mixture into cupcake papers until 1/2 full. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and spoon the following mixture, about 1 T., over the top of each. Return to oven and bake 12 more minutes.
Combine and beat until thick:
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
dash salt
1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. chopped nuts
1/2 t. vanilla

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Hooray for Humus

Note that this is humus with one M; we’re not making a spread for pitas here. Half of me wants to apologize “Stop if you’ve made this one before” but, well, perhaps someone hasn’t made this yet, and it is what’s going on in my kitchen at this very moment. So welcome new followers and friends who may not have discovered the fun-food that is Dirt Cake.
Why dirt cake? Let one of my favorite authors explain it to you:
”But for the tree people different fare was provided. When Lucy …realized that the trees were going to eat earth it gave her rather a shudder. But when she saw the earths that were actually brought to them she felt quite different. They began with a rich brown loam that looked exactly like chocolate…”  --C.S. Lewis  Prince Caspian
Dirt Cake
1 pkg Oreos, pulverized in food processor
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 pkgs. instant chocolate pudding
3 c. milk
2 tubs cool whip, thawed
Gummi worms for garnishing (What would dirt be without a few worms?)
In a mixer, mix the cream cheese, butter and sugar. Add the milk and mix until well blended. Add the pudding mix and mix for 2 minutes. Fold in cool whip. In a 9 x 13 pan, make layers of crumbs, pudding,  and crumbs. Refrigerate.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Nuts for Nutella

Recent travel (3 states in 3 weeks) has put me in a temporary recipe posting bind. I’m happy to feature one of my young readers and friends who was kind enough to share her cooking adventure with me.  I think these would make a wonderful winter treat! Thank you CoolCat!
Chocolate Hazelnut Pots 2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 tbsp superfine sugar (we used regular sugar; it worked fine)
1 tsp cornstarch
2 1/2 cups milk
3 oz semisweet chocolate
4 tbsp chocolate hazelnut spread (Nutella is great, right by the peanut butter in Kroger)
lightly whipped cream and chocolate curls, to decorate
Preheat the oven to 325 deg F.
Beat together the eggs, egg yolks, superfine sugar, and cornstarch until well combined. Heat the milk until it is almost boiling. Gradually pour the milk onto the eggs, whisking as you do so. Melt the semisweet chocolate and chocolate hazelnut spread in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, then whisk the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.
Pour into 4 small ovenproof dishes and cover the dishes with foil. Place them in a roasting pan. Fill the pan with boiling water until halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until just set.
Remove from the pan and let cool, then chill until required. Serve decorated with whipped cream and chocolate curls.
Enjoy! It will turn out with a solid chocolate layer on top, then a hazelnutty pudding below. It looks like you've made a mistake when you see the pudding, but it tastes delicious!
choc pots

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Cookies and Milk

SayerMINIATURE BELTED GALLOWAY CATTLE (6)
We always refer to these critters as “Cookie Cows” because they remind us of an oreo. Speaking of milk and cookies…how about a recipe that combines the best of both?
Malted Milk Cookies
1/3 c. butter
1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. malted milk mix
3/4 c. crushed Whoppers (I have no idea how many you have to buy to get 3/4 c.  Buy a bunch and then eat the leftovers. You have my permission.)
1 t. vanilla
1 pkg. milk chocolate chips
Cream butter and sugar. In a separate bowl combine flour, milk mix, and candies. Add to creamed mixture with vanilla and blend. Mixture will be crumbly. Knead, shape into a smooth ball, and refrigerate wrapped in plastic for 8 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 350. Shape dough into 1” balls, place on ungreased baking sheets, refrigerate for 15 more minutes. (Trust me on this. I didn’t and the cookies flattened out during baking.) Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Melt chocolate chips and dip cookies in melted chocolate. Makes about 4 dozen.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Bread ‘n Butter

But not just any bread of course. How about some Chocolate Bread spread with Vanilla Butter? This is an old-fashioned knead-it-with-both-hands kind of yeast dough. Can you use a Kitchenaid or a bread machine? I don’t see why not! Let me know how it turns out for you.
1 c. milk , scalded, mixed with 2 T. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 pkg. yeast mixed with 1/4 c. tepid water and 1 T. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
2/3 c. sifted cocoa
coarse sugar
Add sugar and vanilla to milk/butter mixture. Add yeast mixture, beaten eggs, and stir.  Measure flour and cocoa in large bowl. Ad yeast mixture and stir vigorously. Turn onto floured board and let rest while you clean and butter the bowl. Knead dough for 3-5 minutes, adding flour if necessary to keep smooth. Put into buttered bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let rise for 2 hours. Punch down dough, knead again, pat into loaf shape, and place in buttered 9x5 loaf pan. Cover and let rise again until doubled, about 45 minutes. Heat oven to 350. Pat top of loaf with coarse sugar and bake for 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes in pan then cool on wire rack.
Vanilla Butter:  12 T. unsalted butter creamed with 3/4 c. powdered sugar and 2 T. vanilla

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Animal Crackers in My Soup

And what kind of soup would that be? Chocolate of course! There used to be a store here in Houston called “Chocolate Soup” which I thought was just inspired. Aside from cute kids’ clothes, chocolate soup is a fun little dessert too. Give this one a try and make sure your lions and tigers do a few loop-the-loops!
barnum's animal crackers
Chocolate Soup
3/4 c. half-and-half
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla extract
2 t. cocoa
1 egg yolk
Heat half-and-half. Pour into cup, leaving about 1/4 c. in pan. Add sugar, vanilla, cocoa to pan and mix until it is a syrup. Add egg yolk and stir over low heat. Gradually stir in preheated half-and-half. Stir until blended and thick. Pour back into cup. Actually, pour into a bowl, top with animal crackers, and eat with a spoon like the 3 year old you would like to be some days.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Primarily Pie

Steve and I have a favorite B&B that we visit in Fredericksburg (well we’ve been twice, and would love to go back!). One place we never fail to visit is the Peach Tree Tea Room. Even guys love this place and if you’ve ever tried their ice-cream pie you know there is nothing “girly” about this incredible dessert! Owner Cynthia Collins Pedregon has this recipe and more in her wonderful Peach Tree Tea Room Cookbook. Enjoy.
tea_room
Ice Cream Pie
7 T. melted butter
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
3 c. corn flakes
1/3 c. finely chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 1/2 qts. ice cream (coffee or vanilla work great, but feel free to experiment)
In a medium saucepan melt butter, sugar, chocolate, and chocolate chips together. In a large bowl combine corn flakes and nuts and pour chocolate over. Stir until coated. Spray a 9” pie plate with vegetable coating. Press coated flakes into pie plate and place in freezer until firm. Fill frozen pie shell with slightly softened ice cream. Freeze until firm and top with fudge sauce, praline sauce, berries, or sliced fruit.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: It’s Genetic

                                                          mom and great
Can I introduce you to another member of the AddMoreChocolate family? If there is such a thing as a “chocolate gene”, I have certainly inherited it!
When my mom was growing up in West Texas during the Depression, she lived out in the country with her mother, grandparents, aunt, and uncles. The only way to get to school was on the high-school bus (thankfully her Uncle Percy was there as a bodyguard) and then this little 6 year old had to walk 4 blocks (by herself!) from the high-school to the grade school.
But the real challenge was inside the school: The Lunchroom. I’ll let Mom tell you the story herself:
“Remember this was a “spoiled stubborn little girl”  whose granddaddy helped her to eat her salmon patty and whose mother and grandmother pretty much cooked the foods she liked.
Well I wasn’t going to eat those strange things on those lunchroom trays which didn’t even look like “real dishes”, and I certainly wasn’t going to drink my milk, because no one had been successful in getting me to drink my milk at home.
So it became a stand off between me and the lunchroom ladies and you weren’t encouraged to bring your lunch. I didn’t tell my family that I wasn’t eating, and they became concerned because of my weight loss (of which I didn’t have any to lose.) Finally a conference with the principal revealed my secret of not eating. After that I was allowed to bring my lunch each day.
I don’t remember what the “main dish” of my school lunch bag might have been, however I do remember Graham Cracker Sandwiches: Graham crackers filled with a cocoa/powdered sugar mixture.”
Mom grew out of her picky eating phase and today she and Dad are pretty adventuresome when it comes to cooking new things. Today Mom puts Nutella on her graham crackers (Yum!) but if she ever wants a taste of the past:
6 T. powdered sugar
2 t. cocoa
1 1/2 t. milk
graham crackers

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Heaven on a Plate

When I was growing up it would not be unusual to see Dad in the kitchen after dinner, after the dishes were done, cooking up a batch of fudge. He’s not one for baking, and although he and Mom are getting to be quite the adventurous cooks these days, fudge is still his specialty. This isn’t a complicated recipe; in fact, it’s one that he remembers his mother making. The recipe used to be on the back of all the Hershey’s cocoa packages; why on earth did they take it off?  I always thought everyone served fudge on a plate. In case you haven’t, it’s a nice use for that pretty plate/platter in your china cabinet. Your late night chocolate cravings have met their match!
Dad’s Fudge
2/3 c. cocoa
3 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. butter
1 t. vanilla
1 c. pecans (I know. I should have called this “chocolate and pecan month”!)
Mix cocoa, sugar, and salt in a heavy duty saucepan. Stir to get rid of all the lumps. Stir in milk and bring to boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium and continue a slow boil. Keep the heat low enough to prevent boiling over. If you have a candy thermometer, you are aiming for 235 degrees (soft ball stage.)  We like to use a wooden spoon for stirring. While you’re waiting, you can keep yourself busy: butter a platter or plate, fill your sink halfway with cold water, get a coffee cup out and fill it with cold water, get the pecans, butter, and vanilla out.
When the temperature is 235, a small bit dropped into the cup of cold water will form a ball that holds together when taken out of the water. Turn the heat down to low and add the butter, pecans, and vanilla to the fudge. Return to a boil (turn the heat up a little and stir – it’s ok.) Next, put the pan in the sink of cold water and stir, stir, stir. Give that wooden spoon a workout! When the fudge becomes noticeably firmer, pour onto the plate/platter and let harden.
platter
It’s pretty, but it’s empty. Let’s give it a purpose in life, shall we?
pot in sink
The star of this show. Oh Hershey – One of these days I’m coming back to visit!
pot on stove
Just beginning to heat up. Stove, pot, spoon – don’t you love simple recipes?
fudge in sink
Cooling off in the sink. Look how shiny it is once the butter is incorporated!
more fudge
Beautiful! (And delicious!)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: One Smart Cookie

Before Katie got married, moved away, and began cooking for someone else, she used to make these incredible cookies for us.  Now she’s a mommy herself and just found out that she is officially a Production Editor for Lifeway Publishing and is going to get her very own office! With her name on it! Never underestimate the developmental power of learning to cook.

Katie’s Double Fudge Cookies
1 lb. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 stick plus 2 T. butter
6 eggs
2 c. sugar
3/4 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
3 1/2 c. chopped nuts (by now you know how much I love pecans!)
2 c. chocolate chips
Combine chocolate and butter in a glass measuring cup and melt in the microwave. In a mixing bowl, mix eggs and sugar until thick and pale yellow. (I hope you have a standing mixer because this takes about 5 minutes!) Stir in the melted chocolate mixture and combine. In another bowl whisk together the dry ingredients then add to the mixing bowl. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips.
Refrigerate dough for 2 hours. Heat oven to 350 and cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Use an ice cream scoop and make sure there is plenty of room between cookies. The entire recipe makes about 18 large cookies and they don’t keep well. Eat them within 2 days. (This will NOT be a problem, I promise!)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Let Them Eat Cake

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This one comes from our next door neighbor when I was 5, growing up in Greenville, TX. Thanks, Mrs. Watson! Remember those “new fangled” convenience foods called “Snackin Cakes”? This is the original. Ingredients from your pantry (“Look Mom! No eggs!”) and you only need one bowl. It’s a very moist cake and I have no idea how long it keeps. We never had any left over.
Mrs. Watson’s Chocolate Cake
Sift dry ingredients together: 1 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. flour
3 T. cocoa
1 t. soda
1/2 t. salt
Add remainder: 1/3 c. melted butter
1 T. vinegar
1 c. cold water or cold coffee
1 t. vanilla
Pour into a greased 8x8 pan and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Icing: 1 c. sugar, 1/4 c. butter, 1/4 c. cocoa, 1/4 c. milk
Boil together 1 minute and pour over the cake.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: In Which I Lose All Credibility

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Ok, readers, stay with me here. On vacation, 2 years ago, we visited Hershey, PA. Stayed in the Hershey Lodge, (where I swear they pipe in chocolate scented air freshener), rode roller coasters at Hershey Park, and ate salad with….Chocolate Salad Dressing. SIT RIGHT DOWN AND STAY PUT.
That’s right-I said chocolate salad dressing. What? You think I’m going to keep posting brownies, and cakes, and cookies, and leave out something as exciting as chocolate salad dressing? Course not!
Chocolate Salad Dressing from the Hershey Lodge
1 T. minced shallots
1 t. Dijon mustard
1 1/2 c. olive oil
3/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. Hershey’s special dark syrup
salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients and mix well.
To serve: Sprinkle spring greens with sliced red onion, mandarin orange sections, and blue cheese crumbles. Pour dressing on top.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Just Open the Box Already!

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I admit it. I am a chocolate snob. I have paid big bucks for the good stuff (Scharffenberger, Valrhona) and driven to Central Market to find it. Other times.... Duncan Hines it is! For those of you who could use an easy recipe, enjoy.
German Chocolate Cookie Bars
Base
1 pkg. German chocolate cake mix
1 1/2 c. oatmeal
1 stick butter
1 egg
Combine all ingredients until crumbly. Set aside 2 cups. Press remaining mixture in bottom of greased 9 x 13 pan.
Filling
2 eggs
8 oz. cream cheese
1 can ready-to-spread coconut pecan frosting
Combine filling ingredients and pour over base. Top with remaining crumb mixture. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Serve warm or cool; store in refrigerator.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Coke “It’s not just for drinking any more” Cake

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I wonder who had the idea to put coke in a cake? I know all about the 7-Up Pound Cake and all, but coca-cola and chocolate never seemed to go together to me. (Neither do coke and peanuts, but what do I know?)
Chocolate Coke Cake
1 c. softened butter
2 c. flour
3 T. cocoa
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. baking soda
Mix all ingredients and mix at low speed. Add 1 c. coke and mix. Stir in 1 1/2 c. miniature marshmallows. Pour into a 13 x 9 greased pan and bake at 350.
Icing: Combine 1 stick butter, 3 T. cocoa, 1/3 c. coke, 4 c. powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Stir in 1 c. pecans and spread on warm cake.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Breakfast of Champions

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Can we find a way to eat chocolate for breakfast? Of course! Pour a cup of coffee and I’ll tell you the story of this recipe.
Back in July of ‘06…
Tuesday morning: Put the wallpaper border up.
Tuesday afternoon: Pull the wallpaper border off. That didn't take much effort - it was falling down all by itself. The blasted thing would not stick!
After consultations with MostValuablePainter friend, we're going with plan B: Put up a thin strip of molding where the border used to be, paint the color of the walls.  The white ceiling looks wonderful with the khaki walls and red "accent wall". Woodwork and doors to follow shortly.
This whole saga began when we moved into this house in 1995. I've slowly but surely been getting rid of the "country blue and pink" color scheme. The pepto-bismol pink master-bathroom was the last to go. Yes, except for the kids' rooms, every room in the house will eventually have red in it somewhere!
While wallpaper may be unwilling and unwieldy, thankfully there are some things that remain predictable.... like flour and butter! Here's a recipe for you. Like my house, there is red in here somewhere.

Renee's Red Scones
2 1/4 c. self-rising flour
2 to 4 T. (depending on taste) sugar
1 c. craisins (original flavor, orange flavor, or cherry flavor)
1 c. optional ingredients (you can use nuts. We like chocolate chips to go w/ the cherry craisins. You could do pecans, almonds...whatever!)
Mix the above ingredients in your food processor. Whir them around until the craisins cooperate and pulverize into little bits. Top with:
1 stick butter, sliced.
Pulse a few more times. Empty into a large bowl. Add:
2/3 c. whipping cream
1/2 t. vanilla
Fold in, knead just enough to blend into a workable dough. Pat with your hands until about 1/2" thick or so and cut w/ a biscuit cutter (or shape into whatever your preferred scone shape might be.)  Bake at 350 on a parchment lined cookie sheet (or use your Pampered Chef stoneware pan. Works great!)

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: My Chocolate Chip Pie

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Mine, as in “I’ve played with this recipe and this is the way I like it.” 
Mine, as in “No, get your own piece, I’m not sharing.”
Ok, ok. I keep my piece of pie, but I’ll give you the recipe. But only if you promise to serve it with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla!
My Chocolate Chip Pie
1 c. melted butter
2 eggs
1 c. each flour, white sugar, brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. each chocolate chips and chopped pecans
1 unbaked piecrust
Combine dry ingredients. Add eggs and cooled melted butter. Stir in chips and nuts. Place in pie crust and bake at 325 degrees for 60-70 minutes. Serve with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Milkshake Madness

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I know, I know. Who needs a recipe for milkshakes, right? You just scoop out some chocolate ice cream, pour on some syrup and start mashing to your heart’s content. That may be fine for the amateur hour, but if we’re talking recipe-quality milkshakes here (it’s Chocolate Month after all!) then you owe it to yourself to hunt down the ingredients (chocolate sorbet? hot fudge sauce?) and give these a whirl. I live in Houston. Ice cream in February is not an odd thing.
Kevin's  Milkshake Supreme
3 c. vanilla ice cream
1 1/2 c. chocolate sorbet
1/2 c. milk
2 T. Hershey's hot fudge sauce
Reddiwhip for topping and a cherry if you're feeling extra fancy
Blend all ingredients in your industrial strength blender (or use a food processor).

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Getting Saucy

6 Mocha Moons
Oh my. OH My… Coffee and Chocolate in one inspired dessert. Oh and did I mention the Haagen Dazs? And cashews? This one is worth it. So very worth it. In case you are wondering, these are all recipes from my collection, tried and true. This one comes from the Houston Chronicle, back in 1995.
Serves 4 (and you’ll have sauce left over)
3/4 c. chopped cashews
1 pint Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream
Remove the lid and cut the carton away from the ice cream. Roll the cylinder in the chopped nuts. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze. To serve: Slice cylinder lengthwise and then cut each piece into 4 semi-circles. Put two semi-circles on a plate and top with sauce. (Or, get all fancy-schmancy and put the sauce on the plate first.)
Mocha Sauce
2/3 c. chocolate chips
1 t. instant espresso powder
1/2 c. whipping cream
2 T. light corn syrup
2 T. Kahlua
In a 4 c. measuring cup, microwave all ingredients except liqueur for 2 minutes. Stir until blended. Add liqueur and cool for at least 15 minutes before pouring over ice cream.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Take Me Home, Rocky Roads

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Can we ever have too many brownie recipes? Of course not! This one was clipped from a copy of Bon App├ętit magazine, ages and ages ago.
Rocky Road Brownies
4 1-oz. squares bittersweet chocolate
1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
4 eggs, room temp
1 c. flour
1 t. vanilla
2 c. mini marshmallows
1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. chopped pecans
Heat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 pan. Melt chocolate squares and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and add sugar, blending well. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in flour and vanilla. Add marshmallows, chips, and nuts and mix thoroughly. Turn mixture into pan. Bake until almost set, about 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes and cut into squares. Makes about 24.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Strong Women Bake Brownies

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Best Brownies
These are not for wimps. What I mean is that if you haven’t been doing your strength training, you won’t be able to lift the dish! I don’t know what the secret is behind these squares of deliciousness, but I suspect it is the sheer size of them.
In a mixing bowl combine:
1 ¼ c. flour
1 ¼ c. cocoa
½ t. salt
In a saucepan melt:
3 sticks butter
Stir in 3 c. sugar, followed by 7 eggs (1 at a time)
Add to the mixing bowl along with
2 t. vanilla
4 ½ c. pecan pieces  (No this is not a typo.)
Line a 9x13 pan with buttered foil. Pour in brownie batter and bake for 50-60 minutes at 350.
Don’t over bake. Cool enough to turn brownies onto a large baking sheet. Chill and remove foil. Cut into large squares.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Chip, Chip, Hooray!

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This one is simple and straightforward. It assumes you don’t want to get into scientific discussions about water baths, optimal cooking/cooling and no-crack temp. Just buy the Oreos and Eagle brand and get started already!
Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
18 Oreos, finely crushed
¼ c. butter, melted
3 8-oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1 can Eagle Brand milk
3 eggs
2 t. vanilla
1 c. miniature chocolate chips
1 t. flour
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Combine cookie crumbs and butter. Press into bottom of 9” springform pan. Beat cheese until fluffy and add milk, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well. In a small bowl, toss ½ c. chocolate chips and flour to coat. Stir into cheese mixture and pour into pan. Sprinkle remaining chips on top. Bake 1 hour. Cool to room temp. Remove sides of pan.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Month of Chocolate: Warm Hearts, Frozen Mousse

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Because sometimes you just need to go all out! This impressive showstopper can actually be prepared up to 3 days ahead of time. No quibbling over whether white chocolate is “real” chocolate. This is red and white for Valentine’s Day so it counts. When I make this for Christmas I love the way the bright green pistachios look sprinkled over the top. If green and red is "so two months ago", then feel free to substitute macadamia nuts.

Frozen White Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberry Sauce
Crust:
1 c. vanilla wafer crumbs
3 T. melted unsalted butter
Mousse:
6 oz. plus 2 oz. white chocolate, chopped
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. water
4 large egg whites
1/8 t. cream of tartar
1 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream, chilled
1 T. Grand Marnier
1 t. vanilla
3 T. chopped pistachios
Raspberry Sauce:
2 c. fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. Grand Marnier
Crust: Combine crumbs and butter (don't use food processor or you'll end up with glue.) Press into the bottom of a 9" springform pan. Refrigerate.
Mousse: In a glass measuring cup, melt 6 oz. white chocolate. Cool slightly. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Continue to boil, without stirring, until sugar reaches 238 degrees (soft ball stage). Gradually beat hot sugar syrup into egg whites. Continue beating until whites are stiff and glossy, about 3 minutes. Fold in warm chocolate. Refrigerate until cool, but not set, about 5 minutes.
Whip cream, Grand Marnier, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Fold cream into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining 2 oz. white chocolate. Pour into prepared springform pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle with pistachios. Freeze until firm (about 6 hours), cover with plastic wrap and return to freezer.
Sauce: Puree berries, strain to remove seeds. Add sugar and Grand Marnier. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
To serve: Remove cake from freezer. Spoon sauce onto individual plates and top with a slice of cake. Serves 12.

Monday, February 1, 2010

It’s February and That Means One Thing!

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Valentine’s Day nears. I never did care for chalky, pasty, medicinal conversation hearts, but chocolate – now that’s another story! Sure I’ll take flowers and cards (Hi Honey!) but when it comes to the sweet stuff, I’d rather make my own. Of course I’m happy to share, thanks for asking! My goal is to post one chocolate recipe per day for the rest of the month. Here we go…
(FYI – I’m not a photographer and have no skills, but if my iPhone and I can manage, I’ll share pics as I can.)

Cowboy Cookies
This is an adaptation from a favorite church cookbook. (When it comes to recipes, I never could leave well enough alone.) If you don’t have any margarine on hand, by all means use all butter! These are chewy, crunchy, and of course….chocolaty!
1 stick butter
1 stick margarine
2 eggs
1 c. each brown sugar and white sugar
1 T. vanilla
Mix above ingredients in a standing mixer. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients thoroughly:
2 c. flour
1/2 t. each baking powder and salt
3/4 t. baking soda
Add to mixing bowl, along with 2 c. oatmeal (not quick oats), 2 c. chocolate chips, 1 c. coarsely chopped pecans (I break them by hand. You don’t want finely chopped.)
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a small cookie scoop, put 12 scoops of dough on pan and bake at 350 for 12 minutes. You want them to just barely begin to brown when you take them out. Let them cool on the pan for a few more minutes until firm enough to remove to a rack.
cookies

Sunday, January 31, 2010

New Year, New Start: Day 31

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Pat yourself on the back! I hope our adventure together has rewarded you with a fresh perspective for this new year. Just as we have a creator God who delights in beauty, so too we can delight in homes, yards, kitchens, and tables that reflect His goodness to us. I pray that our little “home improvement” project has encouraged you.

Thank you for stopping by my blog this month. What a joy it has been to make new friends! The challenge of one post per day was in fact doable, so.... if you'd like a taste of February, just think about this blog's title for a minute. You'll figure it out!

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not men.” Colossians 3:23

Hugs,
Renee

Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Year, New Start: Day 30

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Don’t throw in the towel – we’re almost through! Today’s the last day of our regular tasks. And speaking of towels…. somewhere in your kitchen, bath, or garage is a towel that has lived a good life. It has wiped up your messes and spills, dried muddy paws, and buffed the car to a sparkling shine. It’s a tool, pure and simple, and if it is no longer capable of doing what it was designed to do, then it’s not useful to you any more.  Out it goes.
And that brings us to the end. Congratulations – you did it! Since I’m a teacher, and can’t resist the chance to review and recap – can you indulge me for a bit?
-People are more important than things. Love people; use things.
-Make the decision to release the unneeded object first, then decide where it needs to go. Trash, donation, or giveaway. Can you see why this is important? Don’t hang on to something because you have somehow convinced yourself that you are saving it from the fate of the garbage men or a thrift-store shelf destiny.
-Doing small tasks daily not only adds up over time, it also keeps you in the habit of evaluating your surroundings. Remember who’s in charge.
That wasn’t so hard now was it?

Friday, January 29, 2010

New Year, New Start: Day 29

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Ok, we’ve dealt with junk mail, junk food (pantry, fridge, and freezer), and various and assorted other kind of junk, errrr…. “stuff” that tends to clutter up our space. It’s time to attack another junker-bunker: The Junk Drawer. Unless you are a being from another planet, or have June-Cleaver-genes, you have one of these somewhere. You know you do! I’m not asking you to get rid of it; I’m not even asking you to catalog, label, and alphabetize it. I’m just asking you to look at it and make some choices to empty it of some of its contents. It won’t last forever, but you might find a treasure or two.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New Year, New Start: Day 28

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Read any good books lately? Now we’re hitting close to home. My bookshelf. I love books! I learned to read at age 4 and haven’t looked back since. One of my favorite characters is Harper Lee’s Scout because to her reading is as natural and expected as breathing. My physical space is limited, however, and I do need to learn to live within my literary-means. Today, let’s take a look at a shelf or two and make sure that the volumes have earned their spot. If not, clear space by marking some for the library book drive, a neighbor, the used bookstore, or online paperback swap. You might even, gasp…., toss some books in the garbage. Not every piece of printed  paper needs to be held for posterity. If it was meant to be disposable, then dispose at will.