Tuesday, July 7, 2009

American As Apple Pie!

Have a hankering for that classic American Apple Pie? Here's a tip to help you eliminate that air space between the fruit and the top crust as well as cut down the baking time.

Place your cut fruit into a large pot and add the sugar, flour, butter, seasonings and 1-2 Tblsp of water. Mix well and allow the sugar to begin making its own syrup and then place on low heat. Continue stirring until apples have softened and syrup is slightly bubbling (may need to turn the heat up a bit). Pour fruit into dough-lined pie plate, cover with top crust, seal edges and cover with foil then bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling.

This works great with any firm fruit as they shrink in the cooking...hence the air pocket. Now don't forget to add a scoop of wonderful vanilla bean ice cream!

Where is Your Hope?

Lamentations 3

21 But in my mind I keep returning to something, something that gives me hope – 22 that the grace of ADONAI is not exhausted, that his compassion has not ended. 23 [On the contrary,] they are new every morning! How great your faithfulness! 24 “ADONAI is all I have,” I say; “therefore I will put my hope in him.

~The Complete Jewish Bible

I posted these verses from the Jewish Bible versus the KJV, not because I have an issue with the KJV, because it sounds so much more personal. I love the part "Adonai is all I have"! He truly is all we need and as you go throughout your day today meditate on the fact that God's grace is never exhausted and His compassion is never ending. Be blessed today and be a blessing!!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Scope For The Imagination

"Isn't it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive--it's such an interesting world. It wouldn't be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There'd be no scope for imagination then, would there?"
~Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Truly one of my favorite book series of all time! And favorite character! Anne's plight in life started so miserably, yet in spite of her fragile circumstances she looked beyond the moment, I believe, in order to survive. I think that I sympathized with Anne because I related to her so very well. Not that I had/have her gift of flowery speech or unique way of seeing things, but that I used my imagination to overcome times of hardship.

This ability to imagine a better life or circumstance was what nurtured that gift of creativity inside of me. God has such an unique way of helping us to discover wonderful things about ourselves...something that is a weakness in us can also be something that is a great strength. Let me explain.

For reasons only known to me (and my sweet mommy), I have had this innate drive to know everything about anything. In part, this is due to self preservation, not wanting to depend on anyone lest there is no one to depend upon. For a time this was taken to an extreme in my life to the point of alienating myself in relationships and not entirely depending upon God and his strength. I would only give so much of myself and then close off. In His great goodness, God showed me, that really, this strength I thought I had was a weakness. As I allowed God to reveal things in my life he showed me that in my weakness He is made strong, which makes me truly strong. God turned a destructive pattern in my life for good so that I had a creative outlet.

Now, I'm able to direct that hunger for knowledge in a healthy way that is not destructive, but allows me to be more confident and full of a REAL strength. I stand on such a firm foundation...I cannot be shaken! I can look back on my life and see all the incredible things that I can do because of the gifting that God had put within me.

There are so many things to discover in this world and to discover about ourselves. Look to see what inspires you and allow God to show you that you are fearfully and wonderfully made! There truly is so much scope for the imagination...

Necessity, Mother of Invention!

Necessity has definitely become the mother of invention. Need that perfect cake for a little girl's fantasy birthday party but have very limited funds? You begin by pulling out your meager supplies and commence creating. That has certainly been the case for me over the last 23 years. Many of the talents I have started out of necessity and I've expanded from there. No, this is not a post on how to create a decorated cake, but one on recipes.

I'm sharing with you the cake recipes that I've developed over the years by using your most basic essentials and getting extraordinary results. You yourself can make a "box cake" and have friends and family clammering for more or begging to get your prized recipe!

Heidi's Box Cake Extraordinaire
I make the cake at least 1 day in advance

1 box cake (your favorite flavor)

Follow box instructions for cake then add:

3/4 cup mayonaise (I'm a bit less exact when it comes to measuring...it's usually a dollup here and a pinch there)


Lemon Cake Mix
Also add:
Juice and zest from one lemon

Chocolate Cake Mix
Also add:
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Carrot Cake Mix
Also add:
3/4 cup finely grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup crushed pineapple (drained or decrease your water by about an 1/8 cup)

Bake cake @ 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes checking for doneness. Immediately remove cake from pan by inverting onto flat board/plate that is covered with waxed paper. Completely cover cake with plastic wrap(do not cool first) and freeze.

Next day, remove cake from freezer, leaving it in wrapper and allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Frost (don't forget to remove the plastic wrap first). This technique locks in the moisture.

Butter Frosting (frosts a two layer cake)
1 cup butter (don't even think about using margarine)
1 cup shortening
2 lb bag powdered sugar
6 Tblsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and shortening together, add sugar 4 Tblsp milk and beat, adding remaining milk and vanilla until you have a light and creamy consistancy.


Lemon Butter Frosting
Omit vanilla
Use juice of 1 lemon in place of milk
May need to add some milk to get a light consistancy

Chocolate Butter Frosting
Melt 4 oz semisweet chocolate in 4 Tblsp milk (can melt in microwave 30 seconds @ a time)

Add melted chocolate to creamed butter and shortening then add remaining ingredients decreasing milk to allow for milk in the melted chocolate. Beat as above.

For a wonderful dark chocolate variation use this Ganache recipe for topping your cake or as a filling to a two layer chocolate cake.

Chocolate Ganache
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Heat cream in pan to just before boiling. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips and stir until melted. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before pouring over cake.

I hope you try this recipe at least once and let me know what you think! Be creative yourself and share what variations you come up with. My cakes certainly had humble beginnings, but you have to start somewhere! I've posted my most recent cake that I made for my daughter Whitney's wedding. I hope this cake recipe becomes one of your "favorite things" as it has for me!