About Me

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Stockbridge, Ga, United States
I am married to the love of my life and blessed to be the mom of 6 amazing kids, 5 here on earth and one I long to see again in heaven. We are entering our third decade of parenting together, and love all the blessings along this journey. I am a homeschool mom,a writer, a trainer, and a speaker, but mostly I am a sinner saved by grace who desperately desires to encourage others on this path and to live a life that brings Glory to the One who saved me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Strawberry creams

In the midst of Christmas baking, there are tons of recipes I try each year. Some come out fabulous and others...eh...not so much. But every so often I stumble on a mistake that turns into a really yummy treat. These cream candies are a result of one of those mistakes.
I was actually going for a mint cream candy when I changed mid recipe into this. The original recipe called for two pounds of powdered sugar- TWO POUNDS!! While I know we will already consume far more sugar than we should this time of year, two pounds for one batch was a bit over the top for me. And that was where the magic came in.

The basic ingredients are cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar. And really, how could that combo not be amazing? I added strawberry extract and a candy coating and the end result has friends mmmmmming with each bite. 

One caution about this one though. If you make and freeze your candy head of time like I do, you will want to plan to use this one quickly. Oh it freezes well and will keep nicely in there for a long time, but if you are like me you will find an excuse far too frequently to head back into the kitchen to pop another one in your mouth. Really, they are that good. But now you have been warned!

1   8 ounce block regular cream cheese
1 stick butter
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons strawberry extract (or whatever flavor you like)
1 package vanilla candy coating
Pink food coloring

These are what the discs should look like
Melt the cream cheese, butter and sugar in a heavy saucepan until it is completely blended. Add extract and food coloring. Drop by teaspoonful onto greased cookie sheet or wax paper. One batch is usually about three trays for me. Freeze until slightly firm, about 30 minutes. They will look like little pink discs.
After they are almost firm, melt the vanilla coating.

Drop a little food coloring in here too, especially if you are making multiple flavors. Roll the pink discs into balls and drop and roll into the vanilla. Just a note here. Yes, the balls will be sticky. That is part of what makes these candies so yummy. They won't be sticky once the candy coating is hardened, and the texture inside is really fabulous when you bite into the candy.  So stay with me on the sticky part. Just roll quickly and know that the end result will be totally worth it. 

After the candy is rolled in the coating, return trays to freezer for about 30 minutes. 

Other flavors I love include banana with yellow coloring and mint with green coloring. Later this week I am going for orange creamsicle or maybe some root beer. The sky is the limit when it comes to extract flavors!

Now comes the hard part. Resist the urge to pop the entire tray in your mouth. Mmmmm....heading to the freezer now to grab a handful!

Of loss and heartache

Like most of the country, I have been tearfully glued to the TV these past few days as more and more is reported about the horrific shooting at an elementary school in Newtown Connecticut. To consider that 20 innocent children and 6 adults trying to protect them all lost their lives in this senseless acts is mind boggling. 

One thing I have heard repeatedly is parents saying that they can't imagine what those hurting parents are dealing with as they prepare to say their final good byes to those innocent children taken from them too soon. 

It's impossible to imagine what it's like to send your child to the safety of their school and have the unthinkable happen. It's tough to imagine what it would be like to lose a child in a quick moment. It's difficult to imagine how one second can change every part of your life.

But some of us an imagine. For every parent who has had to plan a funeral for their child in the midst of unthinkable heartache, we can imagine. 

Maybe our loss didn't make national news. Maybe our child was taken in the quietness of the night instead of the rampage of media cameras, but loss is loss, regardless of the avenue. 

Some of us had no prayer vigils, no flooding of support from strangers around the country, no other families to reach out to us who knew where we walked, no causes to rally around. While our circumstances are different, we are all somehow united in a club we never intended to join, joined forever in sharing a heartache that by the Grace of God, most people will never have to experience. 

Some of us really can imagine what it's like to see that Christmas stocking and wonder if the pain and the emptiness will ever go away. And it is not just this Christmas, but every Christmas that will ever come. The stocking will always be empty, and there will always go with it a sense of emptiness in the hearts of those who loved them. 

Some of us can imagine what it's like to tell siblings that death is final and that their sibling won't ever come back. 

And some of us can imagine all too well that emptiness and desperation of trying to breathe, and trying to understand the senselessness of this great loss. 

They say time heals all wounds. It doesn't. Time has no more power to heal our heart than we do. Time simply teaches us to live in the light of the loss. 

God is the only One who can bring healing into this terrible tragedy. God is the only One who provides hope in eternity which comforts us now.

We all approach this in very different ways. Some want to blame the use of guns, some want better security, some want to blame the parents of this shooter, and some want to blame God. 

But my heart just cries for the parents who have now begun this awful journey. No, I haven't walked where they have walked, and I won't pretend to understand what it is like to suffer this horrible act. 

But I know what it means to look at the staircase and wonder if my son will ever walk up those steps again, and I know what it is like to never be able to count the amount of people in my family without pausing and recounting because even after two years my heart can't comprehend that he is really gone. 

And like every parent who has been forced to say goodbye too soon, the wounds are reopened each time we consider another parent walking through this path. 

May God and healing in this community as only He can do. Only He can fill those empty places and restore these families with the hope of eternity.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ohhhs and ahhs lemon fudge

My freezer is filling quickly with piles of ziplock containers filled with fudgy sugary goodness. Tis the season in our house for friends and family and that of course, means Christmas baking. I love Christmas baking. I love to plan for it, shop for it, and fill the kitchen with wonderful treats for my family. My favorite part of course is seeing the faces of the ones I care most about as they enjoy each treat. And since I am a real mom in the 21st century with real kids, a family business to move forward and a thousand other projects always screaming out to me, the name of the game for me is simplicity. Quite plainly I like to make things that look and taste fabulous but require little effort to pull it off. So that brings me to my latest creations, lemon fudge and strawberry creams, along with amazing cake truffles. The responses are such fun. People assume I spent hours slaving away in the kitchen when some took literally a few minutes to put together.

Let's start with the lemon fudge. Start to finish this batch took less than 5 minutes. SERIOUSLY. Five minutes! In a brief moment of sharing a plate, I had two people beg for the recipe and and both were pretty shocked when I told them how it was made. (I really wish I could be one of those people who could keep recipes a secret, but I since I am typically the one asking waiters and chefs to spill the beans on their secrets, I feel guilty about not spilling to those who ask me. But I digress.)

The lemon fudge is rich and delicate and has a wonderful flavor. The texture is reminiscent of fudge made the old fashion way without having to do all that sweating and stirring. Ready for the ingredients? White chocolate chips and a jar of lemon frosting. That's it! Yes, I am trying to not eat or serve the traditional processed foods, and throughout the year I have been so very good at cleaning out my pantry and making better choices for my family, but this is December, and we are talking about fudge. Some things just go without saying.

So here's how to whip up a fancy batch of no leftover lemon fudge to impress your crowd.

Melt 12 ounces of white chocolate chips in a glass bowl in the microwave. I like to do it in 30 second intervals and it usually only takes 2-3 minutes. While this is happening, spray your fudge pan with Pam spray. I used a silicon loaf pan for mine, and the fudge was nice and thick, but an 8 x 8 pan would work as well. When you can mix it smoothly with a fork, quickly dump in the whole jar of frosting and mix it all together. Pour the mixture into your pan and smooth the top with a knife or spatula. Put it into the freezer to chill for about 30 minutes, and go back to your normal activities while your fudge gets perfected in the freezer. When you are ready to slice it, cut it into one inch squares. Transfer the fudge into either a freezer ready container if you are not ready to serve it, or transfer it to a fancy-smancy plate so that it is ready to receive the oohs and ahhs of the crowd. Fudge has the ability to keep for months in the freezer, though I have never actually had that happen in my house since it usually vanishes pretty quickly ;)

Pictures coming soon!