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!


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, 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?


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

  • 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


  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.