Pages

Thursday, July 31, 2014

THE WORD IS FOR MY SOUL AND CHOCOLATE IS FOR MY SANITY : PERFECT CHOCOLATE CAKE

You know how Charlie Brown always ends up with a rock when going trick-or-treating~~well I had one of those kinda days. 
A day where everything you tried to do flopped and you were disappointed for one reason or another.  I needed to read and meditate on these verses to calm my mind.  Not all is resolved but these verses (see below) remind me that God is in control, not me!!  I thank God for that!!




Proverbs 3:5-6


Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
______________________________________________________
1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
________________________________________
Psalm 55:22

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.
______________________________________________________



Why is there a picture of chocolate cake when we are talking scripture???  I need a balance of chocolate and the Word to keep me sane.  The Word is for my soul and the chocolate is for my sanity.


This chocolate cake is rich and easy to make in any emergency situation!!!


I had help eating this...really!!

REALLY PERFECT CHOCOLATE CAKE


TO MAKE THE CAKE

1  package chocolate cake mix
1 package chocolate pudding      
3/4 cup butter (melted)
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2.In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mix (powder form), butter, eggs, milk and vanilla.  Pour batter into a well greased 12 cup bundt pan.
3.Bake 45 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake (this is the hardest part...waiting...but you can do it) thoroughly in pan at least an hour and a half before inverting onto a plate.


TO MAKE THE FROSTING

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter 
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


DIRECTIONS:

  1. Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.
  2. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Optional:  Sprinkle with chocolate chips and peanut butter chips.

before frosting
 after frosting
 with chocolate and peanut butter chips

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

It's Simple to Repurpose Old Things with Spray Paint





Repurposing furniture is all the rage these days.  It is an affordable way to update old furniture. 


 This was so fun, fast and easy!  I want to spray paint everything now!!  You probably have a few things just lying around your house that can use a face lift.  It´s a great way to recycle and a great way to add that touch of fun into your home.




Hose down or wipe down furniture before starting.  Make sure furniture is completely dry before painting.










Apply paint primer by s
praying an even coat on the furniture using short strokes. This helps avoid paint drips. Let the primer dry 10 minutes. 

I wore a face mask because of the fumes.  You can also wear gloves to protect your hands from the paint.







Apply spray paint.
Let the paint dry 10 minutes. Apply the second coat. Let the second coat dry completely before use.

Using primer is fast and easy. Priming ensures better adhesion of paint to the surface.







After the primer dried,  I spray painted each chair with the color of my choice.  I chose multiple colors but you can do what ever you like.  You may want one color or more.  Painting it yourself allows you to choose the colors that you like for your home.  

This was after the first coat.



So many colors to choose from.  
Here is what I used...


First coat....


I had a little blue left over and decided to make an accent piece with a terra cotta pot I already had.





DONE!  
This whole project took less than 3 hours including drying time and cost $40!!   


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Macaroni and Cheese on the Stove Top

You may never want to buy boxed mac and cheese again after making this easy stove top version.  I had planned on making macaroni and cheese as a side dish with dinner and thought I had butter but I didn't.  I never made mac and cheese with out making a roux before (a mixture of equal parts fat and flour used for thickening sauces and soups).  For mac and cheese, I normally use butter.  For this recipe I did not make a roux and it was still creamy and super cheesy.




Macaroni and Cheese on the Stove Top

  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound shell pasta or elbow macaroni (my fave is large shell)
  • 3 1/2 cups  grated sharp cheddar 
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard (you can use dijon, if you don't have ground)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  Directions

  1. Step 1

    Cook pasta according to package directions.  However, I suggest cooking it 2-3 mins less (al dente which in Italian means "to the tooth") than recommended because it will continue to cook in cheese sauce. Drain thoroughly and return to pot.
  2. Step 2

    Warm 1 cup of milk in pot on medium heat.  Do not boil or scald milk.  Whisk in flour until dissolved. Add remaining cup of milk. Whisk in cheese, mustard, cayenne pepper and Worcestershire. Pour cheese sauce over pasta and stir to coat.
  3. Step 3

    At this point it is ready to serve.  If you like, you can scoop mac and cheese into a 9x13 pan and sprinkle with more cheese and bread crumbs (if you have butter, you can dot it with butter) and put in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 mins.

I hope you find this easy to make and yummy to eat!!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Homemade Coffee Creamer


I am one of only a few people I know that does NOT drink coffee.  Yes, you heard me....I don't like coffee. However, my husband does and drinks 1-3 cups almost everyday. I don't know why I don't and I don't know why so many people do.  But what I do know is that I don't like my husband drinking coffee creamer with chemicals as part of the ingredient list.  This creamer is by no means a health food but you can pronounce every ingredient in it.

These ingredients can be found in a popular creamer brand:
  • corn syrup solids
  • vegetable oil
  • sodium caseinate
  • dipotassium phosphate
  • mono- and diglycerides
  • sodium aluminosilicate
  • artificial flavor
  • annatto color
Unless these are code words for milk and sugar and vanilla, I don't want my family drinking this.


MAKE THIS FIRST~

Simple Vanilla Syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup organic granulated cane sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla
Combine water and sugar in a saucepan, stirring constantly until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat, allow to cool 5 minutes, stir in vanilla.

HOMEMADE COFFEE CREAMER
1 batch of Simple Vanilla Syrup (above)
1/2 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of milk 

Combine ingredients in a mason jar and shake well.  This will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks, shake/stir before using.


This creamer is sweet and creamy with a hint of vanilla in the background.


 I made a simple syrup with water, sugar, and vanilla extract.
Equal parts water and sugar and bring to a boil until sugar dissolves.

  
                                            Shake jar to mix.



After making creamer in mason jar, I shook it thoroughly and then I transferred it to this glass creamer/milk container that I just happen to have.



tips
  • clean mason jar in hot soapy water before use.
  • scrap a vanilla bean into mixture instead of using vanilla extract.
  • experiment with different flavor extracts.
  • double or triple recipe depending how many coffee drinkers are in your family.
  • use creamer in other recipes (adjust sugar accordingly).


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Homemade Banana-Vanilla Ice Cream

There are not too many things in life I like more than homemade ice cream.  One of our families summer traditions is to break out the ice cream maker and experiment with different flavor ice creams.  On this particular day we had bananas, so we made 
Banana-Vanilla Ice Cream. 





Chocolate Chip Brownies and Homemade Ice cream.....pure heaven!



Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients (4 Quart):

2 cups milk
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups half and half
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups whipping cream

Ingredients (5 Quart):

2 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups half and half
1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 cups whipping cream

Ingredients (6 Quart):

3 cups milk
2 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups half and half
2 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 cups whipping cream 



  • Add mashed bananas (3 cups for 4 quart, 3 1/ 2cups for 5 quart, or 4 cups for 6 quart) to chilled mixture before freezing. 
  • Chocolate chips optional.
  • Adding Strawberries would be yummy, too! Add pureed strawberries (4 cups for 4 quart, 5 cups for 5 quart, or 6 cups for 6 quart) to chilled mixture before freezing. 
  • Recipe is the same for all ice cream makers.  Just follow manufacturer's directions.
  • You will need one box/bag of rock salt and lots of ice!



Scald milk until bubbles form around edge of pan. 
Remove from heat. 


Add sugar and salt. 
Stir until dissolved.


Stir in half and half, vanilla extract and whipping cream. 

Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. 
Add mashed bananas after cooling in fridge.
Follow directions on your ice maker.
Store in freezer for several hours.
ENJOY!
Steps at a glance!
I hope you and your family enjoy the process of making homemade ice cream as much as we do.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars

I love to go through my pantry and see what ingredients I have and create something.  On this day I wanted something fast and easy and with peanut butter in it.  I usually eat peanut butter one way or another almost everyday.  This time it was in a cookie bar.  This peanut butter bar is soft and chewy and as my kids would say "healthy" because there is oatmeal in it.  I'll let you decide that....but they are delicious!





OATMEAL PEANUT BUTTER BARS
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 6 ozs chocolate chips


Directions:

PREHEAT OVEN 350 DEGREES. GREASE A 15X10X1 JELLY ROLL PAN.  

BEAT TOGETHER BUTTER AND SUGARS UNTIL CREAMY. ADD EGG AND BEAT WELL. ADD PEANUT BUTTER AND MIX TOGETHER.  ADD BAKING SODA, SALT AND FLOUR TO BUTTER MIXTURE.  ADD VANILLA ND STIR IN OATS AND CHOCOLATE CHIPS.  SPREAD INTO PAN AND BAKE FOR 15 MINUTES.  AFTER COOLING, CUT INTO BARS.


These Oatmeal Peanut Butter Bars are so easy and fast to make that in less than 30 minutes you will be eating warm, soft and chewy bars!



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

FUDGEY or CAKEY BROWNIES~~ WHY NOT MAKE BOTH?


Fudgy or cakey... people usually have an opinion one way or another about their favorite way to make brownies.  Brownies come in so many varieties~~with chocolate chips, swirled with peanut butter, frosted, with nuts or without and just plain chocolate.  But texture is what makes the brownie either cakey or fudgey.  So here are two ways to make brownies.  You can swirl or sprinkle in what ever you like to make them even more special!!




CAKEY BROWNIES

Whisk 1 3/4 cups flour, 4 tablespoons cocoa powder, and 1 teaspoon each salt and baking powder in a bowl. Bring 2 sticks butter, 2 1/2 cups brown sugar and 1 cup water to a simmer in a saucepan. Remove from heat and whisk in 6 ounces chopped unsweetened chocolate; cool for a few mins. Whisk in 4 eggs, one at a time, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture. Spread in the pan; bake 30 to 35 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray.
Add the batter and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean. Cool on a rack, then cut into squares.



FUDGEY BROWNIES

cup all-purpose flour
cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter or margarine
 cups sugar                                                                                eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla
1/2  cup chocolate chips                                                                                       

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13x9 baking pan. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a saucepan, melt butter on low. Remove saucepan from heat; with spatula, stir in sugar, then eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla until well blended. Stir in flour mixture. Spread batter in prepared pan; sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  3. Bake 18 to 20 minutes. Cool brownies completely in pan on wire rack.
  4. When cool, cut brownies.
Just a few simple steps...

I've made both these brownie recipes over and over again.  We have a tradition that when it is someone's birthday, they can choose what ever kind of cake (or dessert) they want.  Recently my oldest son requested these brownies (fudge) as his birthday "cake" and I made homemade vanilla ice cream to make brownies a la mode.  The brownies were rich and moist and chewy and the ice cream was smooth and creamy.....a perfect combination!














Saturday, July 5, 2014

PERFECT BUTTERMILK PANCAKES




I have been making pancakes for 20 years and the inspiration for these light and fluffy, crispy on the edges pancakes started with my husband's grandma Ida.  She made the most amazing pancakes I have ever tasted and no one can make pancakes like her.  Believe me I have tried for many years!!!  
Grandma Ida passed away when I was pregnant with my second child. Unfortunately, my children never had a chance to taste her perfect pancakes, but I hope her stories go on with each generation like these wonderful pancakes will.

Here it is....the classic way of making these most perfect pancakes!!!





PERFECT BUTTERMILK PANCAKES

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons  sugar
  • 2 teaspoons  baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon  salt
  • 2 cups  buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup  milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup  butter, melted
  • Butter for frying
  •  Maple syrup 



Directions

1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until blended. Combine buttermilk, milk, eggs and melted butter in a medium bowl. Whisk until blended.
2. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients; mix batter with a wooden spoon just until blended. If lumps of flour are visible, that's okay. 
3. Heat a large pan or griddle. When pan is hot, reduce heat to medium and grease pan with butter. Using a ladle, pour spoonfuls of batter onto the hot greased pan. Cook until small bubbles begin to form on the top and some pop, 2 to 3 minutes. Also, look for those crispy edges before flipping. Flip pancakes with a spatula, then cook 1 to 2 minutes more, until golden brown.  Repeat process with remaining batter.





When Lance and I were first married, his little brothers would come stay with us over the summer and they always wanted pancakes for breakfast.  They would call them "Jam Cakes" because these pancakes are the jam!!
Then a couple of years later we had our first baby and when he was a toddler, he would get up in the morning and stand at the bottom of our bed crying "ba-ha" which meant pancakes.  So, there I was again making pancakes.  Til this day, pancakes are his favorite breakfast and he is 17 y/o now!!!
Because of my families love of pancakes, I have come up with many different ways of making them.  Here are a few of our favorite add-ins.

Here are a couple of different ways you can make these most perfect pancakes even tastier!

To make peanut butter banana pancakes: slice bananas thinly and add to pancake while frying, then flip when bubbles have formed and popped.  Warm peanut butter in a small bowl and drizzle in place of syrup.




To make blueberry pancakes: add blueberries to pancake while frying, then flip when bubbles have formed and popped. Warm maple syrup with blueberry all fruit (like a jelly with no added sugar) in small bowl and mix and drizzle over cooked pancakes.



Don't stop here...you can add what ever you like!!


Tips

  • I've mentioned buttermilk and its magical powers before and it is true for pancakes, too!  The secret to light and tender pancakes begins with one simple ingredient: buttermilk.   
  • Don't over mix the batter or the pancakes will toughen. 
  • You know they are ready to flip after bubbles have formed and popped.  (see pictures above)
  • You can cook all the batter at once. Keep pancakes warm in the oven and serve when you're ready.
  • Also, you can cook all the batter at once and freeze pancakes. Once they have cooled, seal in zip lock baggies. Don't forget to label and date baggies.




PERFECT BUTTERMILK PANCAKES

Ingredients

  • cups flour
  • tablespoons  sugar
  • teaspoons  baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon  salt
  • cups  buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup  milk
  • eggs
  • 1/4 cup  butter, melted
  •  Butter for frying
  •  Maple syrup 

Directions

1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Whisk until blended. Combine buttermilk, milk, eggs and melted butter in a medium bowl. Whisk until blended.
2. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients; mix batter with a wooden spoon just until blended. If lumps of flour are visible, that's okay. 
3. Heat a large pan or griddle. When pan is hot, reduce heat to medium and grease pan with butter. Using a ladle, pour spoonfuls of batter onto the hot greased pan. Cook until small bubbles begin to form on the top and some pop, 2 to 3 minutes. Also, look for those crispy edges before flipping. Flip pancakes with a spatula, then cook 1 to 2 minutes more, until golden brown.  Repeat process with remaining batter.