Sunday, August 31, 2014

Chocolate Chocolate Cheesecake Recipe

Our family loves cheesecake... and for his birthday cake, my son wanted cheesecake..... and he wanted chocolate cheesecake. I asked if he wanted chocolate inside the cake or on top. He said, "BOTH".  :)  So, using my basic cheesecake recipe, I adjusted it and made a Chocolate Chocolate Cheesecake.

 I didn't take a picture of the batter, but this is when I just took it out of the oven.
 Here is where I put sour cream on the hot cheesecake and then I put it back into the oven for 5 minutes.
 The sour cream also helps to keep all of these chocolate chips in place... I used a mixture of milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate.
 Side view... looks good. :)
It tasted great. My son (the birthday guy) said it was the BEST cheesecake he's ever had. Of course, I have heard that before, so either they are getting better and better.... or every time he has cheesecake, it just always tastes the "best" to him. :)









                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
   Chocolate Chocolate Cheesecake  
        Crust Super Simple Shortbread Bars
       1 cup butter, softened
           1/2 cup sugar
           1 tsp vanilla
            2 1/2 cups flour 
       Mix all together and press into bottom of greased 9" x 13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. 
        Filling    
       4 - 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
           1 1/2 cups sugar                                                 Beat cream cheese and sugar well.
           1/4- 1/2 cup cocoa , depending on taste             Beat in.
           2 tsp. vanilla                                                       Beat in.
           1 cup sour cream                                                Add
           4 eggs           
          (1 cup sour cream mixed w/ 2 tsp sugar.... Save this for AFTER baking...)
           2 cups chocolate chips (milk and semi sweet)....save chips for AFTER baking...

           Add eggs one at a time and beat just enough to mix in. Make sure well blended, but don't overblend.  Pour onto baked crust -cool is best, but in a time crunch hot works fine, either way.  Bake at 335 degrees for 45-60 minutes... start checking at 45 minutes and leave until  looks almost done in the center. Remove cheesecake from oven - spread sour cream and sugar mixture on hot cake as best as you can.... bake for another 5 minutes. Remove cheesecake and add chocolate chips. Let cool on rack enough (at least an hour) and then chill.  Enjoy. :)



























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Friday, August 29, 2014

My Kids Played A Joke On Me....

One day recently, my kids played a joke on me.... they asked me to go to the garden to check on things....  I didn't think much about it at first.... then they suggested it again.. .and I caught on a bit.... seeing some quickly hidden smiles confirmed that SOMETHING was up... seemed they were all in on "it".  So then I was curious about what was going on....

 They directed my attention to going out to check on the watermelon. Our watermelons did GREAT to a certain point - they grew to about 3-3 1/2" in diameter and pretty much quit.... have just stayed the same, so we have given up on them, but left the vine..... So I looked.....


Then I noticed it.... it was certainly out of place.....


Here you can see the two little melons on the vine... poor little things... and then there is the great big melon.... :) 

 We all laughed....
When I tried to pick it up, this is what happened... it was just the shell - it was from the melon they had just cut up. We had just bought two melons.... they cut up one and the other was still whole...

They cleaned the debris up from the garden bed... and we laughed again. I hadn't even noticed them planning this.

They were pleased to surprise me and it was so nice to have fun together....  and we all laughed at the thought of a big melon like that coming from that spindly little vine.  Maybe someday we will have big melons... but not this year.

It was such a little thing... and took very little time .... and yet those fun little moments help to bind us together with shared memories and laughter.  I am so thankful for my family..... what a blessing they are to me.... and I want to be a blessing to them. 

Thank you for visiting... I hope you have a great day. :)

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Super Simple Shortbread Bars

We use an easy shortbread recipe and we love it... there are so many ways to vary it..... and it is quick and easy to make.... AND it tastes WONDERFUL! :)


After mixing all of the ingredients together, it has a grainy texture...just put into the 9" x 13" greased pan and press it down.

My youngest daughter has made most of the shortbread in our home for the last couple of years.... here she is using a plastic sheet to press it down. Just remove the plastic and bake.

Here they are... browned on the edges, soft and buttery. This time they have dried blueberries in them. Sometimes we use dried cranberry, or other dried fruit or mini chocolate chips.

We also use this recipe, minus the fruit or chocolate, as a crust when making cheesecake.... easy and so good. :)




  The shortbread is a great addition to tea.... or snacks.....














       ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                              Super Simple Shortbread Bars

                             1 cup butter, softened
                    1/2 cup sugar
                    2 1/2 cups flour
                    1 teaspoon vanilla
                    1/2-1 cup dried fruit or chocolate chips

        Cream butter and add sugar, beat well.... then add flour and vanilla and mix. Add fruit or chocolate. The texture will be slightly grainy... press into a greased 9" x 13" baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then cut bars.  That's it... you can let them cool.... or eat hot... they are great both ways. :) 
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                   
 As I said, these have dried blueberries in them and they are wonderful.... other variations I have done with this recipe is to put maple flavoring in place of the vanilla and add some nuts.... Mmmm good. :)  There are lots of possibilities.

One nice thing about these is that there is only 1/2 cup of sugar in the whole pan, so I don't mind giving them to the kids as much as sugary cookies(although we like those too!)

























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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Table "Face-Lift"

We needed to protect the table.... this is an oak table that I bought at a garage sale about 17 years ago for $60.00.  I have sanded and finished the top a few times... at first I did it about every year... I would do it with my little guys... everybody would have sandpaper and a homemade sanding block and we would work and work and work. I taught the kids to sand WITH the grain and not across it.  I loved using that table and wanted to keep it nice and it was a great project for the kids and I to do together. :)

 Well, after the first few years, we only refinished it every other year and then less and less. So now, it REALLY needed it.....

You can see the dings and scratches on the surface.
 It was getting pretty rough.... after all, this is our kitchen table and it is used MANY times every day for food preparation, school work science experiments, bread making, canning and for meals like breakfast and lunch and snacks and..... (with a lot of children, and many of them boys, there is a LOT of eating that goes on in our house! :) 
Spots like this were really getting bad - not only had the finish come off, but the repeated washing and liquids being spilled on the table caused it to "weather" and the gray/black color went down a few layers. Some of the black was from raw sweet potatoes that we peeled on here... we didn't realize it would stain the table... it was really time to get this table protected.



 This time, it has mainly been the project of Son #3 and he sanded and sanded. He was eager to do this project on his own....

There was a LOT of work... there was a long scratch that was a bit deep and so the sanding needed to keep going deeper. Also, the weathered spots were deep... lots of elbow grease was used on this.
 No, we didn't have a power sander, so I tried to convince him that this was good exercise for those arm muscles.... he didn't buy that, BUT.... he did do the sanding anyway. :)

Finally, after a lot of work, over several days, he was tired of the project and I helped him and so did another one of our kids. 
 We didn't stain it.... we wanted to just highlight the beautiful grain of the wood, so we just used a sealer. This is just a really old can we had left, so we used that.

We did a thin coat, then a light sanding after it dried, wiped it off good, then another coat.  We did have to switch to another can of finish. We ended up putting a total of about 6 or 7 light coats, I think.
 You can see the difference... the beautiful wood grain just shows up so nicely.
 Here is is....
 It is so much better.... the finish is strong and will protect the table again.
 I am hoping it will last and not need to be done again for several years... since we tend to be so busy, I am sure that's how long it will be before we do it again. :)
What a treat to have it all done and looking beautiful again.

Getting new things and fixing them up is one thing, but maintaining what we have is another..... it is so important, but it is much easier to put off in the day to day busyness. How nice to give well-used items a bit of a face-lift. They look better, but it also preserves the item.

We need to remember to do regular maintenance in our lives also. I find that  it is so easy to become lax in what I am doing and a regular evaluation, helps to identify areas of need.  Maybe I haven't stayed consistent with discipline with my children... or with our schedule.... or when driving.... or any number of things.  Sometimes, we need to evaluate and "re-do" some area of our life.  I have found that my kids do the best when I am consistent, but that is so hard and I slack off a bit here and there.... but I don't want to, so I need to keep checking to be sure that each area of my life honors the Lord. Then I can "shine" for Him and be useful... and beautiful in His eyes.

Thank you for visiting. :)

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Strange Recipes From Old Cookbooks...

I have recently looked through an old cookbook.... old meaning that this one was from 1976.  I was looking through it casually when I started noticing some of the titles... and thought they may interest you also. :)  Maybe these aren't strange to you - maybe you make these and love them.... but they seemed "odd" to me.






Like... Beet Salad or Colorful Sauerkraut Salad.  How about Mark's "JUNK" Salad or Gumdrop Salad? In the main dish section, I saw Klumpus that calls for jaws, backbone or country ribs and Feather Dumplings. In desserts, there were recipes for Calorie Pie, Allergy Peanut Butter Cookies and Ding-A-Lings. There were recipes for Mayonnaise Cake and Coca Cola Cake and Hot Milk Cake.



The names of some of these make some sense... others, I have no idea why they are called such a name..... Why would I eat Calorie Pie? I think we all know pie has calories and sometimes we just pretend it doesn't... but at least we don't want to be reminded of it up front. It would be like naming potato chips.... Fat Potato Chips... they probably wouldn't sell very well with that name. :)

My kids would love the idea of gumdrop salad, but it seems odd... and WHAT goes into "Junk" Salad? Just for fun, I am including the exact recipe for this one.....
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Mark's "JUNK" Salad
1 can cherry pie filling                1 c. chopped nuts                          1 carton Cool Whip
red food coloring                         1 can Eagle brand milk                 
1 can pineapple chunks                1 can mandarin oranges                Mix all together.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A few more names... Graham Nut Roly Poly, Calico Salad, Rink Tum Ditty Soup, Smokestack Slaw, Chocoladamias, Dooley, Black Oil Cake, Shoe-Peg Salad, Sock It To Me Coffee Cake, Daffodil Cake, Yum Yum Cake, Chipmunk Bars.

I like cookbooks that give a bit of background for a recipe... and I would love to know what inspired the name for a lot of these. Anyway, they are fun to look at and wonder about. :) 

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Easy To Make Soft Ice Pack

I have seen ideas for making soft ice packs for a while now... at least 2-3 years or so and I planned to do it.... someday.  Well, a few weeks ago, one of my sons had a chainsaw accident and cut into his leg(oh, shudder, shudder)..... and we only had 1 soft ice pack and needed more, SO.... I looked it up and made 2 of them. I was surprised just how easy it was and wondered WHY I hadn't done this a long time ago.... we certainly could have used them. Anyway, I made them this time and took pictures...


 First of all, I got out the supplies I needed....
Rubbing Alcohol
2 quart size Ziplock freezer bags
1 cup measuring cup
plastic disposable cup
blue food coloring
 First, I filled the measuring cup with water..... and poured the water into my disposable cup.
 The 1 cup of water in the disposable cup....  tells me where the 1 cup level is in this cup. I will use the disposable cup for measuring the alcohol and will throw it away afterwards so there is no chance I will reuse it for food or drink.
 The ziplock bag has 2 cups of water in it here.............
This is the 1 cup of rubbing alcohol....











 Add the alcohol to the water in the bag.........
 Add a few drops of blue food coloring. This can be omitted if you want to. I like the blue coloring in it because it is easy to see. I use only blue because I do not want it to look like kool aid or popsicles or  something edible.
 Actually adding and mixing the food coloring was the fun part.....
 Everything is now in the bag.  Force the air out and zip it up........
I put my finished bag into another same size bag...just in case it would ever leak...... and again forced the air out and zipped it up. It is much more secure now. :)











 There is one ice pack all done and ready for the freezer.
 I made 2 ice packs so we would have enough....
 The next morning I took it out of the freezer and it was frozen nicely....
It also moved and molded nicely to form to the shape needed.  This was a very easy project and it was nice that I didn't have to run to the store to buy ice packs.... all we had were the hard cooler type. Sometimes we use frozen peas or corn, but were all out of those too.

My son's leg is healing nicely... we still need to check it and change dressings every day, but it is healing, thankfully.

This is something helpful to remember... just 2 cups water and 1 cup rubbing alcohol makes a wonderful ice pack!  Thank you for visiting today. :)

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dill-Not Only For Pickles

Dill is one of those plants that I just love... I love seeing their graceful greens swaying in the breeze. I love the wonderful smell that rises with a gentle brush of the plant. I love the looks of the heads and the beautiful symmetry.

 This picture is when the little flowers are out on the heads...
Sometimes I sample the greens when the plant is at this stage.
 When the seeds form, they begin to swell....

I have learned to enjoy eating the seeds when they are like this - they crunch lightly and have a delicate dill flavor and they taste fresh and healthy.

Dill is so good for many things.... it has calcium, manganese, fiber, iron, vitamin A, magnesium... and maybe more.  It is mildly antibacterial.
 The swollen seeds start to mature and darken...

I still sample these seeds a bit, but they are stronger, so I don't eat many of them fresh at this point.

Dill can be used as dill weed (the greens/leaves) or dill seed. Dill can be used fresh or dried. Dill can be added to foods like salad, dressings, rice, soups, bread, sandwiches, and of course, pickles.

I have also discovered that it adds great flavor to hamburgers. I mix dill weed and dill seed in a grinder with Celtic salt, parsley, tumeric, dried onions, dried garlic and more.... and then after cooking a bit, I put barbeque sauce on top of each hamburger and allow it to cook in a bit.

The seeds dry up and begin to fall from the plant (and re-seed for next year) if they are not harvested. They can be saved to be used at planting time next year or to be used for cooking.

A dill seed tea can be made by steeping dill seed for about 15 minutes. It can be sweetened with Stevia and can help with nausea or heartburn. I also read that it can increase breast milk.



This is how the seeds look when they are ripe and ready to eat fresh... at least that is when I eat them. :)  I have never heard of other people doing it, but it is something fresh to enjoy while out working in the garden or walking through it.

Yum... :)

Dill is also said to be good as a mild aid for insomnia.... even safe for children and won't leave a person feeling drugged....

A few of my children have sore throats right now and that is going around, so I brought in dill seeds for them to eat.... they did it reluctantly, although one daughter liked it. Since dill is mildly antibacterial, I figured it could be a good thing to try.

 These are the leftovers after the seeds were removed... they are rather fun and interesting. :)


I read information that said dill is good as a breath freshener... it is good for colds, flu and chronic cough.  I did find a caution that said dill should not be overused in pregnancy.

I love finding out how to use herbs from my garden....after all, God provides for us-even right here in our own yard. :)  No, I am not a doctor and you can do your own research... I am just sharing what some of my research has shown.
This is dill drying in my home...  I have the mature heads as well as the immature heads....  I plan to put it all to good use. :)
Dill has a beautiful shape... and the silhouette looks nice against the sky.

My dill grew well this year and was rather tall.  










This is what the "leaves" look like on the dill.

I found a suggestion for dill butter which uses chopped fresh leaves... and lemon juice, salt and black pepper can also be added... then use it in place of regular butter. Sounds good... and I plan to try it.  :)

So, anyway, I love dill and I threw a LOT of seeds around early this year - back in the spring...and I have had a lot of dill popping up here and there... and I have loved it... I plan to do that again next year. Thank you for visiting. We love dill pickles in our house, but I hope you find some great uses for dill that go beyond just dill pickles... :)
I hope you have a great day!

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