Saturday, December 29, 2012

Deliciously Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

Two of my kids and I love cheesecake. Sabrina doesn't. Sadly for Sabrina, I made this new recipe to take to my family Christmas celebrations. Luckily for her, though, her aunt made other desserts that she did like. Crazy girl. I found this recipe at Bright Ideas.

Deliciously Dark Chocolate Cheesecake

20 chocolate wafer cookies
1 T. sugar
4 T. unsalted butter, melted

10 oz. DOVE 71% Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate, chopped
4 (8-oz.) packages cream, fat-free 1 cup sugar
1/3 c. cocoa powder
4 eggs

½ c. heavy cream
5 oz. DOVE 71% Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate
1 t. sugar
Preheat oven to 350°. Line the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper.

Place the cookies and sugar in a food processor and process until finely ground. While the processor is running, drizzle in the melted butter and continue processing until well-mixed. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the buttered pan, packing well and making sure to leave a level surface. Bake 5-7 minutes, until set. Let crust cool while you make the filling. Do not turn off the oven.

Melt the 71% chocolate in a double boiler or in a glass bowl over simmering water. When it’s melted, remove from heat and allow it to cool until it is lukewarm but still liquid.

While the chocolate cools, cut or tear the cream cheese into chunks and place it in the food processor. Add the sugar and cocoa powder and process until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, processing thoroughly between each one. While processor is running, drizzle in the lukewarm chocolate and continue processing until thoroughly mixed.

Pour the filling over the crust and smooth the top. Bake for 55-60 minutes, until center is lightly set and looks dry. Run a knife around the edge of the cheesecake to make sure it doesn’t stick as it cools. Cool on a rack for one hour, then refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight. Do not remove the ring of the springform pan and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.

To make the ganache, stir together the chocolate, cream and sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until smooth. Cool slightly, then pour the ganache over the cheesecake, spreading it to the edge of the top, but not over. Chill for one hour, until the topping is set.

Before serving, allow the cake to sit at room temperature for one hour.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chocolate Covered Cherry Fudge

My kids and I have had fun making some treats for neighbors and friends and this is one of the new ones we tried. I gotta say it is goooooood! I love cherries and chocolate together. I found the recipe at Karma Per Diem recently and knew I wanted to make it for Christmas plates.

I copied and pasted the recipe as it was originally, but I did some things differently. It calls to just put it into a loaf pan and there will be "some" fudge leftover, so I put it into an 11 x 7-inch pan, thinking it is bigger than a loaf pan so all the fudge would fit into it. But I could quickly tell there was too much white cherry fudge for just that pan so I also put some into a loaf pan. There was enough fudge to fill both pans well.

Also, I did chill the first layer for 6 hours before adding the second, as directed, but the milk chocolate layer kinda falls off of the white layer. So next time I will make the white layer and chill it just while I make the milk chocolate layer and then add that on top. And believe me, there will be a next time!

Chocolate Covered Cherry Fudge 
Bottom layer: White Cherry Fudge:
3 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter
2/3 c. evaporated milk
1 (12-oz.) pkg. white chocolate chips

1 (7-oz.) jar marshmallow crème
1 t. vanilla extract

2 (approx. 10 ounces each) jars
maraschino cherries, drained, rough-chopped, and dried thoroughly

Combine sugar, butter and milk in heavy 2-1/2 quart saucepan; bring to boil, stirring constantly, until candy thermometer reaches 234°. Remove from heat, stir in chips, marshmallow crème and vanilla. Beat until blended. Gently fold in maraschino cherries. Pour into foil-lined 9″ loaf pan. Allow to cool at least six hours in refrigerator.

Top layer: Milk Chocolate Fudge:
3 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter
2/3 c. evaporated milk
1 (12-oz.) pkg. milk chocolate chips
1 (7-oz.) jar marshmallow crème
1 t. vanilla extract

Combine sugar, butter and milk in heavy 2-1/2 quart saucepan; bring to boil, stirring constantly, until candy thermometer reaches 234°. Remove from heat, stir in chips, marshmallow crème and vanilla. Beat until blended. Remove cherry fudge from refrigerator and using a heat-proof spatula, gently pour and spread fudge (about ¼ cup at a time) on top of cherry fudge. Allow to cool at least six hours in refrigerator. Note: you will probably have leftover milk chocolate fudge unless your loaf pan is extremely tall.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Handy Excuse

A couple of years ago while trying to find help for my aching heart, I read this interesting article titled
about something that is now said often with men or women who leave their spouse. "I love you, but I'm not IN love with you and there's nothing I can do about it."

Of course, all marriages go through ups and downs and they aren't all super-romantic all the time. You see your wife without make-up or your husband sitting with his shirt up and his stomach sticking out above his pants. You see his or her weaknesses. You have hurt each other. They have sometimes failed to do what you have wanted and needed.

But through all of this many people are able to do what they promised to do, keep loving through it all and to stay with his or her spouse forever, progress together, hold hands, give hugs and kisses with meaning and feeling, make memories and say "I love you". If you have that, like most of my readers do, realize what an enormous blessing that is. No matter how much he doesn't help around the house or makes you watch stupid movies or how much she makes you late because she's doing her hair or she vents as soon as you come home from work.... It is a blessing.

Here are a few parts of the long article, but go to the link above and read it all. It's not specifically an LDS perspective, but it is religious perspective and cites many Bible verses.

“The excuse ‘I’m not in love with you anymore’ is nonsensical. Let me tell you why. There is no such emotional condition as falling out of love; it’s a justification for doing whatever you are planning on doing. It’s a way to let your spouse down easy.

“What you’re really feeling and should be saying is ‘I don’t want to love you anymore.’ It usually means that the attitude towards your spouse and marriage is not what it once was. Perhaps you are talking yourself into having an affair or perhaps you have already had an affair.

“The person who says ‘I’m not in love with you anymore’ is searching for a feeling. The marriage has stopped giving them a feeling they want and expect to have.’” (Angie Lewis from the article titled “Testimonies: Falling In and Out of Love" — which you may want to read to learn more on this issue.)

"As I said before, feelings can come and go.

“A person who says, ‘I love you, but I’m not IN LOVE with you,’ is making a distinction between 2 different feelings. But NEITHER of those feelings are love! When a person says, ‘I love you, but I’m not IN LOVE with you,’ they’re saying that I CARE about you but I’m not EXCITED about you.

"...You can’t MAKE your spouse participate in your marriage in the way he or she should, but you can ask God to keep your heart and mind and focus centered on doing things His way, and to give you peace of mind in the process."

I know too many people who are hurt and alone. The divorce rate just seems to climb. I know there are times to leave like when there is any abuse or often if there is addiction or adultery. But too often people just give up because they want to move on to someone and something new. I know this is not what the Lord wants for us or our children. This is not what we need in this world.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Integrity Through & Through

I get tired of seeing liars and hypocrites seem to get away with what they do and even earn praise and popularity from others. This world just seems to get worse and worse, but I need to focus on the positive things and the good examples I know.

I need to just remember the law of the harvest and know that what they reap, they will sow someday. And someday I will be rewarded for my plodding along, day after day, holding fast to the iron rod and ignoring the chances presented to let go and to live opposite to everything I am and believe.

I think that for those of us who do not stray, it is not because we aren’t surrounded by the same sorts of chances to do wrong, but because in our hearts and the core of our beings we are disciples of Christ. In order to remain strong, we must become a better person, not just practice better behavior. We will ultimately be judged by who we have become, not just what we have done.

People can do the right thing because of fear of guilt or fear of getting caught. But they have not become a better person for doing the right thing. And they will not be rewarded the same.

"People of integrity and honesty not only practice what they preach, they are what they preach. And the Savior stands as the finest example."
Elder David A. Bednar, "Be Honest," New Era, Oct. 2005, 7

“In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, November 2000, 32
A couple of weeks ago, I asked Sabrina if she remembered what integrity meant. I really liked her answer and have been thinking a lot about it. She said, “Integrity is doing what is right when no one is looking because it’s what you want to do.”

There are so many people who pretend to be one type of person in front of others, but when they think others aren’t looking, they do what they really want to do in their hearts---steal, lie, commit adultery… And there are others who have no desire to do any of those things even if they wouldn’t get caught or somehow not feel guilty. Those are the people who have integrity and would not give away their eternal blessings for temporary, fleeting rewards.

I recently watched Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin’s talk Personal Integrity and a certain word he used to describe integrity stood out to me. “Incorruptible” Oh, how the incorruptible people shine with the Savior’s light. Have you ever seen someone who you know is hiding something from others or living in a way contrary to what they say they believe? They are the corruptible, corrupted people and you can see the lack of light. I have seen it. Following are some quotes from his talk.
"To me, integrity means always doing what is right and good, regardless of the immediate consequences. It means being righteous from the very depth of our soul, not only in our actions but, more importantly, in our thoughts and in our hearts. Personal integrity implies such trustworthiness and incorruptibility that we are incapable of being false to a trust or covenant.

"…many today trade away their integrity for a very small price tag. A person who shoplifts for a candy bar, or makeup, or jewelry trades priceless integrity for a meager gain. A person who falsifies a tax return by not reporting income or claiming invalid deductions compromises valued integrity for a pittance of unpaid income tax. One who avoids paying bills promptly for goods or services received exchanges cherished integrity for a perceived temporary advantage. Husbands or wives who are unfaithful to their spouses trade their prized integrity for a fleeting moment of mirth. Integrity is so precious that it is beyond price; it is invaluable.

"Joseph’s integrity placed him among the greatest of our Heavenly Father’s sons. He did what was right and good; he was trustworthy and incorruptible, self-disciplined never to violate a trust.

"Because of his integrity and righteousness, Joseph was favored and blessed of the Lord in every circumstance. His life is evidence that “all things work together for good to [those who] love God.” (Rom. 8:28.)

“A man’s true greatness is not in what he says he is, nor in what people say he is; [but really] in what he really is.' (Hartshorn, p. 38.)"

President James E. Faust also used the same word that I now like to describe integrity in his talk Integrity, the Mother of Many Virtues
"The dictionary defines integrity as a firm adherence to a code of moral values (see Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary). It connotes soundness and incorruptibility. It is the mother of many virtues.
Complete and constant integrity is a great law of human conduct. There need to be some absolutes in life. There are some things that should not ever be done, some lines that should never be crossed, vows that should never be broken, words that should never be spoken, and thoughts that should never be entertained."

The world teaches the exact opposite of that last paragraph, teaching that anything goes, there should be no rules to hold us down and no vows that can't be easily broken.
There are many blessings for having integrity, some of which come soon (like peace and the presence of the Holy Ghost) and others that come later, even in the next life. How could anything be worth throwing away those blessings away forever? Are those people who have no integrity trustworthy or respectable?

…till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.
Job 27:5

Friday, December 14, 2012

New Books to Read in the New Year

Thanks for the entries in the last post. The winner of the 3 books giveaway is...


And it's not because I happen to think she has a pretty great name.

Congrats, Valerie.

We'll be in touch to get the books to you soon. I hope they are great.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Done With Shopping? (Giveaway too)

I know many of you are good at planning and shopping ahead of time. I used to buy things here and there, little by little. But with my full-time student schedule these last couple of years, I have waited until after finals and then it's a mad rush. Just in case any of you are like me and aren't finished yet, or you are looking ahead for a gift for someone's birthday, I'm posting a few links from people I know in the real world and am happy to refer you to. Please check with them about dates since I don't know what you might actually be able to get before Christmas.

Decal Geex has decals from small for laptops to large for walls. (Make sure you check the size before ordering.).  Don't spot what you're looking for? He does custom orders, so just send him a message and he'd be happy to fun-ify your wall. If you like Decal Geex on Facebook, he'll send you a code for free shipping.

Looking for a unique gift for someone special (or even for yourself)? Angie has lots of vintage items--kitchen stuff, toys, jewelry and more and the prices are really great at The American Homemaker She has 76 items in the $5 and under section.
Angie is super-talented and I'm sure the funnest photographer you'll ever work with. Make sure you book early because she is very popular and busy. Visit her site and you will see why.

Visit Kelly's etsy shop called The Vintage Bob, where she has cute and fun jewelry and headbands. (I featured her a couple of years ago and even gave away one of her beautiful headbands. And I wore my headband from her yesterday.)

And just for fun, I'm throwing in a giveaway. It can be a Christmas gift for you or you can give them away so it's one last thing you have to shop for.

A couple of years ago, I went to a few book signings and bought these books (got all three signed). It was back when I would have been able to read for fun, but then I started school full-time and haven't been able to read them. I'm giving them away to a reader so they can be read by someone.
The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum
Within the Flame by Leeanne Hanks
Nothing to Regret by Tristi Pinkston
All three are LDS authors, but I haven't read them so I can't comment on the content. I hope one of my few remaining readers out there will like them.
For a chance to win all three, just leave me a comment with the title of a book you really like. The giveaway closes Friday, December 14 at noon MST and I'll announce it sometime that day. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fill Up the Goodie Trays

This is my last week of classes for this semester and then finals are next week. Almost made it through another semester. This last week I have several assignments and even an exam, so I won't have time to bake or post for a bit. I thought I'd post my top 10 most popular dessert recipes, the ones that have received the most hits. Maybe you can find a new favorite for your goodie plates this year. What is your favorite treat to make every year?

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Peanut M&M Cookies is #1 by far.

Swirled Lemon Raspberry Poundcake with Raspberry Glaze

Chocolate Covered Raspberry Cheesecake Bites

White Chocolate Lemon Truffles

Homemade Milky Way Bars

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Choco-nut Dainties

Jam Layer Bars

Larger-than-Life Praline Cheesecake

Better-than-Brad-Pitt Brownies

Blueberry Cheesecake Crumb Cake

Bursting blueberries in every bite! I made this coffee cake that I found on  Oh My Goodness Chocolate Desserts  (even though it's not a ...