Friday, December 21, 2012

Blessed Solstice and A Magickal Yule!!


The chill breath of winter touches us,
As blankets of snow cover the ground.
With the glow of moonlight upon them,
Its like diamond sparkles all around.

Inside the room is cozy and warm,
The scent of evergreen wafts from the fire.
Surrounded with love and family,
I've got all that I could desire.

Sleigh bells jingle from the front porch,
As my coveners decorate outside.
They've no need of blankets,
They have the warmth of love inside.

In my home we all gather round,
And with Pagan carols our voices ring.
Then we settle down to enjoy the tale,
Of the Oaken Lord and the Holly King.

For our holiday is quite different,
Than the cowan Christmas night.
We cast our Circle, join together,
And welcome the return of Light.

Then we sit and share the feast,
As we pass bread and wine around.
As blessings from mingled voices...
"Never hunger," "Never thirst" abound.

All too soon the rite is ended,
And we greet the newborn day.
As we clasp hands together,
This wish we send your way....

It's no matter your tradition,
Be you family, friend, or guest.
We wish you joy and peace,
And may your Yule be Blessed!!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Taking An Internet Break


After I finish posting my assignments over at Ashford this evening (where my 2 week holiday break begins tomorrow), I think I'm going to need to take a break from Facebook and the entire internet for a few days.

It seems like everything on my Facebook news feed, Twitter feed and even in my emails, is negative and angry. I fully comprehend the tragedy of Friday, however, I will not continue to subject myself to the nasty remarks from people who are supposed to be walking a spiritual path, which ever path they have chosen. Blaming the lack of God in schools, or not enough gun control shows how little you actually know about the situation.

God is with you no matter where you are, and being able to have a time recognized for school prayer makes not one bit of difference.

Instead of playing the *blame game*, find a better way to use your energy. Hug your children, pray for your neighbor, volunteer at any of the numerous charities in your town. This may not seem like the way to make a difference in your eyes, but in the long run, you will have made a big change for humanity.

I am not perfect, and will be the first to point out my many flaws. When everything out of another's mouth is nasty, negative and hurtful to others, there comes a time when I have to just walk away and not engage. This has been happening too often in the past few weeks... and more so since Friday.

Most of you know how to find me, I'm not cutting off contact all together. I just don't want to see the hate and discontent many are stirring. It is beginning to make me physically ill to the point I'm having trouble eating and keeping food down.

I do hope you all will find some inner peace in the next few days. Yule is Friday, and then next Tuesday is Christmas. This is supposed to be a magical and peaceful time of the year. I realize someone took that away from many families, but unless you have a magick wand you can wave to bring those children and teachers back, there is NOTHING you can do by being negative, hateful and argumentative.

I wish you peace...for all of you...

. Monday Munchies ~ Decadent Cherry Mousse Brownies


I don't know about you, but the holidays around our house have always been filled with yummy goodies. Some more yummy than others if that's even possible. I have a few absolute favorite recipes we collected and made around Momma's kitchen table over the years. And even though I no longer have the recipe box where they all were stored, I have been able to replace them from family members who were lucky enough to also be given a copy of some of these cherished recipes. Or I have been able to duplicate them fairly closely. Today I give you my version of:

Decadent Cherry Mousse Brownies

Ingredients

1 box Betty Crocker® fudge brownie mix
3 oz. white baking chocolate 
1/3 cup whipping cream 
1 cup Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy cream cheese frosting (from 16 oz container) 
1/4 cup chopped well drained maraschino cherries 
1 drop red food color 
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips 
1/4 cup butter or margarine 
1 oz. white baking chocolate 
1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil

Directions        
                                                                                       
1 Heat oven to 350°F (or 325°F for dark or non stick pan). 
Grease or spray bottom of 13x9-inch pan. 
Mix brownies as directed on box using water, oil and eggs. 
Spread into pan. Bake for 24 to 26 minutes or until toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out almost clean. Cool completely.

2 In medium microwaveable bowl, microwave 3 oz. white baking chocolate and 1/3 cup whipping cream uncovered on High 1 to 2 minutes, stirring once, until chocolate is melted. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until slightly thickened.

3 Stir frosting and maraschino cherries into chocolate mixture until well blended. Spread evenly over cooled brownies.

4 In small microwaveable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and butter uncovered on High 1 to 2 minutes, stirring once until smooth. Carefully spread over mousse. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set.

5 In small microwaveable bowl, microwave 1 oz. white baking chocolate and oil uncovered on High 30 to 60 seconds, stirring once, until smooth. Drizzle chocolate over brownies. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until chocolate is set.

Picture credit to Polyvore

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Munchies ~ Fudge and More Fudge

I make a lot of fudge for the holidays and give it as gifts to my fudge addicted family and friends. Every year along with the tried and true, gotta have favorites, the Fantasy Fudge (with and without pecans), the Peanut Butter Fudge, the Butterscotch Fudge I try to come up with at least one or two new recipes to go along with the 4 or 5 others I make each and every year. This year is no different, these are the ones I'll be adding as requested for this year.

These are my recipes that I have adapted from the one my mother handed down to me many years ago.

And BTW, there has been some talk about posting recipes *found* elsewhere on the internet, which a few people consider copyright infringement or out right plagiarism. Just an FYI, recipes are NOT covered by copyright laws and you can read more about that here.

KAHLUA FUDGE

INGREDIENTS:
 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
 1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow creme
 2/3 cup evaporated milk
 1/4 cup salted butter
 1/3 cup Kahlua
 1/4 teaspoon salt
 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate pieces
 1 cup milk chocolate pieces
 2/3 cup chopped pecans, roasted
 1 teaspoon vanilla

DIRECTIONS:

Line an 8 inch square pan with waxed paper.

In a 3 1/2 quart saucepan combine sugar, marshmallow, milk, butter, Kahlua and salt. Bring to a rapid boil, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add all chocolate. Stir until melted. Add nuts and vanilla. 

Turn into prepared pan.

Cool on wire rack for 30 minutes and then refrigerate until firm. To serve remove from pan and cut into squares.

CANDY CANE FUDGE 
INGREDIENTS

2 (10 ounce) packages vanilla baking chips
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups crushed candy canes
1 dash red or green food coloring (I left this out and there was just the right shade of red/pink from the candy canes).

DIRECTIONS

Line an 8 inch square baking pan with waxed paper.

Combine the vanilla chips and sweetened condensed milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until almost melted, remove from heat and continue to stir until smooth. When chips are completely melted, stir in the peppermint extract, food coloring, and candy canes.

Spread evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan. Chill for 2 hours, then remove from pan and cut into squares.

CHERRIES AND CHOCOLATE
INGREDIENTS

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
 1 (12 ounce) package semisweet chocolate chips
 1/2 cup chopped pecans
 1/2 cup chopped candied cherries
 1 teaspoon almond extract
 1/4 cup pecan halves
 1/4 cup candied cherries, halved

DIRECTIONS

Line an 8 x 8 inch square pan with waxed paper.

In a microwave-safe bowl combine sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips; microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes, or until chocolate is melted. Stir until smooth. 

Stir in chopped pecans, chopped cherries and almond extract. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.

Place pecan halves and cherry halves on top.

Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, or until firm. Remove from pan and cut into 1 inch squares. Store, covered, in refrigerator.

Let me know if you make any of these recipes and how you liked them. I'm always open to feedback of any kind.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Munchies ~ Candy Cane Brownies


I'm on a mailing list where I get tons of recipes each week. These were listed among others in the email I received on Sunday December 2nd. I haven't tried them yet, but they look so delicious I'm going to be adding them to my baking for Yule and Christmas.
YIELD: 16 brownies

PREP TIME: 20 minutes

COOK TIME: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (I recommend Ghirardelli)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I recommend Hershey’s Special Dark)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 full sized peppermint candy canes, crushed
2 full sized (3.17oz) dark chocolate bars (I recommend Ghirardelli Intense Dark, Midnight Reverie)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick spray or softened butter. Line the pan with parchment paper; grease parchment paper (this ensures easy removal of brownies).

3. Place butter, chocolate, cocoa powder and 3 tablespoons of crushed candy canes (reserve the rest for the layering steps) in a heatproof medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until butter and chocolate are melted. The candy canes will not completely melt, so small specks will remain in chocolate mixture. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

5. Place both kinds of sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Carefully add the chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Add flour mixture and beat, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowls as needed, until ingredients are combined.

6. Pour half of the batter into prepared baking pan. Break the chocolate bars into squares and place them, evenly spaced, around the top of the brownie batter. Sprinkle with half of the reserved candy cane pieces. Top with the remaining batter and sprinkle the remaining candy cane pieces on top.

7. Bake for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the brownies comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet. Allow the brownies to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Lift the brownies out using the parchment paper and allow to completely cool on wire rack. Cut into 16 brownies.