Chocolate, Compassion, Dessert, Gratitude

I Am Magdalene

Today I am thankful for:

He Is Risen

Photograph by Cathleen Tarawhiti

1. A moment. She and I together. She has seen too much of life. Five children with several fathers. Time and time again, searching for love and coming up short… She looks at me, smiles, and says, “I am Magdalene.” She knows Jesus. Jesus sees her and loves her for all time. I feel as if I am in the midst of sacred beauty. Joy.

2. Happy Unbirthday. We surprised them again! Our kids came home from school, unsuspecting, to a house filled with decorations and a present for each of us. The Beatles’ Today is Your Birthday blaring on the stereo. “How did you do it again?” our daughter laughs with the biggest smile. Celebrate!

Happy Unbirthday

3. Dark Chocolate Pie! Our unbirthday celebration was made complete with dark, rich, chocolately goodness. Chocolate makes everything better!

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Dark Chocolate Pie

  • 1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a saucepan. Stir in milk gradually. Add chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate. Place over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute. Take off burner.
2. Give the eggs a brief whisk in a separate bowl. Take about a quarter of the chocolate mixture and, working with just a few teaspoons at a time, pour it into the eggs as you whisk continuously. Adding the chocolate mixture this slowly prevents the eggs from being cooked instantly from exposure to heat.
3. Whisk egg yolk mixture back into mixture in saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring back to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla extract.
4. Pour mixture into baked pie shell. Press a layer of plastic wrap onto filling. Refrigerate at least 4 hours but no longer than 48 hours. Remove plastic wrap before serving and top with whipped topping.

Chocolate, Dessert, Gratitude

Birthdays

Birthday

Today I am thankful for:

Birthdays. Somewhere along the years I got into my head the idea that it was up to other people (my husband or family) to make me feel special on my birthday. As a mother, it was important for me to make others feel celebrated on their special day. But, when my birthday came around, I did not treat myself in the same way. Maybe I could only be worthy if someone else thought I was. It seemed un-humble or something to make a big deal out of me.

Several years ago, someone helped change my perspective. She said to treat myself in the same way I want my children to be treated. Make an effort to model for them what I hope for them. My desire for my children is that they feel loved, valued, and important… And that they know they are a super good reason for a party! My friend told me she buys her favorite cake every year and throws a party inviting loved ones to join in the celebration. If someone else makes a cake for her, that means more fun for everyone. What a wonderful gift to herself and her children. Chocolate Popcorn

This year I felt overwhelmed with gratitude throughout the entire day. My husband festively decorated the house. My family sang. I had lovely conversations with my sisters in Germany and Texas. Then, went to yoga where my yoga instructor gave me a wonderful little gift that included chocolate. She led the class in a mat-bound yogini rendition of Happy Birthday and played Radiohead throughout the entire class because she knows its my favorite. I was pinching myself at this point (thankful, thankful, thankful) and it was only 10:00. The rest of the day was full of chocolate, joyful messages from friends and family, and more chocolate. We topped off the evening with my very own homemade chocolate cake and shared dinner with dear friends. As I am writing, I am overcome with gratitude at the simple gifts that make life so meaningful. The best gifts were moments shared with beautiful people in my life. Chocolate Bar

I just want everyone to know that each and every one of us is a good reason for a party. Time to celebrate!

What are you thankful for today?

Chocolate, Gratitude

Oreo Truffles, Lemon Facials, and Sugar Hand Scrub

Today I am thankful for:

1. Oreo Truffles. I was told to bring something chocolate to our Thanksgiving celebration. I am often told to bring the chocolate because I adore chocolate, AND… Oreos and chocolate together make a beautiful partnership. This recipe is so simple… there is still time to make it. The best part is the smiles and mmmmm’s from my kids. Blessings!

Oreo Truffles

1 pkg. cream cheese

1 pkg. Oreos

1 pkg. chocolate candy coating

Blend together Oreos and cream cheese in food processor. Melt chocolate coating in microwave. Roll Oreo mixture into balls, dip in candy coating, and drop on wax paper to set.

2. Facials with my daughter. We have a lovely little facial recipe that feels heavenly: organic lemon juice and sugar. Sharing this time creates such a beautiful memory with her. The experience was capped off with some Lemon Sanpellegrino. Nice way to start off a school holiday. 

3. Our evening fun was finished off with a healthy helping of Sugar Hand Scrub. Our youth group is making all kinds of wonderful holiday treats to sell in order to make money for their Honduras mission trip. My daughter and I were luxuriating over the softness of our hands and the delightful smell of citrus. 

What are you thankful for today?

Chocolate, Compassion, Dessert, Gratitude

Daring Greatly, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Dr. Who

Today I am thankful for

1. Dr. Brené Brown. A friend introduced me to her work two-and-a-half years ago just as my family was transitioning to Houston. Her work gave me permission to reach out and share my struggles with close friends (connection), be kind to myself on difficult days (c0mpassion), and have the courage to believe that I am enough just as I am. Productivity, success, and meeting up to other’s expectations do not define my value … even if I struggle sometimes feeling like they do. I am worthy of love and belonging simply because I am a fellow human being. She changed my life, and I am grateful. Over the next few weeks she is offering a free podcast (read-a-long) on her website to discuss vulnerability, courage, parenting, leadership, life, wholehearted living, our shame, and fears when we take risks, etc. Jeff got me her new book, Daring Greatlyfor my unbirthday, and I am thankful every time I pick it up. (An embarrassing moment was when I met Brené a couple of years ago and launched into a big hug before I could help myself. She was lovely and gracious.)

Daring Greatly

2. Chocolate Chip Cookies. I promise (cross my heart) that these are the best chocolate chip cookies ever. Anyone want to challenge me? 

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Jennifer Christian
350 degrees

3 1/4 c Flour
1 tsp. Baking soda
1 tsp. Baking powder
3/4 tsp. Salt
1 C. White sugar
1 C. Brown Sugar
1 C. Vegetable Oil
3 Eggs
1 ½ Tbs. Boiling water
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 C. Chocolate Chips (Ghiradeli’s bittersweet at Sam’s are big and wonderful!)

 1. Mix dry ingredients together in small bowl.

2. Mix sugars, oil, eggs, water, and vanilla in large bowl.

3. Add ½ flour mixture to wet ingredients until well blended, then add other ½.

4. Add chocolate chips.

5. Drop on ungreased cookie sheets.

6. 350 degrees for 9 min.

7. Savor!

3. Thankful for Friday nights. We often take Friday evenings to have a family night. Tonight we have big plans with Dr. Who and some Chocolate Chip Cookies. Love it!

What are you thankful for?

Chocolate, Gratitude

It is well with my soul

  1. Thankful today for humor. I ran across a song today that always makes me smile. Long ago in a place not so far away, I was a part of a five-part acappella singing group. We were good. I can say that because I was blessed to sing with some amazingly talented women. Beautiful voices, each with a unique sound that created a breath-taking blend. At least for me it did. I would get lost in the moment when I sang with these women (and their beautiful hearts to match). Anyway, one night we had a singing gig. We were singing for a community event and very excited to have the opportunity to sing for the public. I was especially exhilarated. As we sang our last song, the joy of the moment overwhelmed me. The spirit moved me. Unfortunately, for the other women, who were not so moved by the spirit, I went “Beyonce” on them, “It is well, it is we-e-e-e-e-e-e-l-l-l-l-l-l-l, w-i-t-h, mmmmmmmm, my so-u-l-l-l-l-l-l-l.” Imagine a tight harmony with one voice going off on a journey all its own. Alas, it was not a very pretty moment. All I can say is my “Beyonce” days came to an end with the increasing redness of my cheeks. 
  2. Thankful for spaghetti squash. It makes a great, healthy replacement for spaghetti noodles. Love it when I can be healthy and still taste good.
  3. Chocolate. My personal dessert law is that if it is not chocolate I do not eat it. Sorry Lemon Bars, Key Lime Pie, and all that jazz. Although, apple pie is pretty hard to resist. Grateful for the sweet things in life.
Chocolate

Dark Chocolate Cake


The whole family loved this recipe. My husband said it tastes like homemade Dingdongs and wants me to try a cream filling. It was moist, chocolaty and yummy!

Dark Chocolate Cake
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder (Penzey’s dutch cocoa powder is fabulous in this recipe)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs (room temperature, can put in bowl of hot water to quickly bring to room temp)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (Great substitute: a tsp. white vinegar and enough milk to top off the cup)
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans or one 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
  2. “Bloom” cocoa power, by adding it to the hot coffee and letting it set while assembling other ingredients.
  3. Stir together sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee with cocoa, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes (batter will be thin). Pour batter evenly into prepared pans.
  4. Bake 30 to 35 minutes for round pans, 35 to 40 minutes for rectangular pan or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with Dark Chocolate Frosting.
  6. Yields 10 to 12 servings.

Dark Chocolate Frosting

  • 1 stick (8 tbs) butter at room temperature (I use “I can’t believe its not butter and it turns out quite yummy!!!)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • dash of salt
  • 1/3 cup milk (or less… add until frosting is desired consistency)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  1. Cream together butter and vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine powdered sugar, salt, and cocoa powder. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture.
  3. Slowly add milk until frosting reaches desired consistency, then beat another 5 minutes until creamy.