Brunch · Christmas

My Christmas Recap

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Christmas Morning Breakfast!

Hi Friends!  I pray you’ve had a wonderful Christmas and are still reveling in God’s grace gift of His Son.  I’m still chilling over here and enjoying a little rest before the new year happens!

Whitney at Come Home for Comfort posted a great recap of our Christmas complete with great photos of our time and all the food we shared.  If you’re interested you can go here to see it all! She did a great job capturing the spirit of our time together!

I’ll be back next week with some of my own photos of Christmas, goals and new ideas to hopefully refresh 2019!

See you soon!

Denise Signature 150 px

 

 

Christmas · memories

The Only Way To Have the Best Christmas Ever

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In just a few short days I will be hosting our family Christmas here at our home. I have plans, a freezer full of prepped food, and anticipation about our time together, but I’m remembering that things don’t always go as planned.

I remember the Christmas years ago, when I had prepared and planned for my parents, Continue reading “The Only Way To Have the Best Christmas Ever”

Christmas · peace

The Reason He Came At Christmas

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On our drive through our country roads this week we saw the sign,

Live nativity December 22

My mind went back to the last one I saw years ago.  There was the sweet little baby Jesus lying in the manger bed, wrapped in soft white cloth while His mother Mary, dressed in blue sat smiling down on her sleeping child.  Joseph stood protectively alongside while little sheep were baa-ing and cows were mooing in their stalls only feet away from the manger scene.  Little girl angels stood above in the barn loft, their tilted halos shimmering from the gold garland from which they were crafted. It all seemed pristine and perfect.

But at that nativity we didn’t get a picture of what the scene of this baby’s life would look like in thirty years.  Now His garments are stripped from Him in a mocking. cruel fashion.  No adoring glances were given by those nearby, only daggers of hate and scorn.  The swaddling cloth at His birth is exchanged for a purple robe and a blood-stained cross on which He was hung.

Cruel.

Bloody.  But also perfect.

Perfect love.

This was the reason He came.  He came to die. It was the only answer for our sins to be forgiven.  Perfect blood had to be shed and He came to die in our place.

People lined up to stand and stare at the scene at that live nativity I attended.  It was the Story of stories come to life.  A baby born of a virgin and announced by angels. Everyone loves a story of a baby’s birth, but who will follow Him to the cross?  The crowd was very thin.  Oh friends, let’s not lose sight of the fact that the purpose of His birth was so He could die for broken sinners like you and me. That is why we have Christmas.

The following video is about three wonderful results of pondering why He came.

 

What has brought you peace instead of chaos this Christmas?  If you can’t find peace, please watch the other two videos in this series.  I pray it will encourage you!

Merry Peaceful Christmas!

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Christmas · dessert

Brownie Meets Peppermint Cheesecake

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Holiday desserts are delicious, but also often high in calories and fat, which presents a real issue when we are surrounded by them for weeks at parties and events as we celebrate Christmas.  For that reason, and also because the recipes are so good, I turn to Cooking Light.  They have great recipes that are reduced in fat, yet full in delicious-ness!

Last week I made dinner for company and wanted dessert, but didn’t want it to be really fattening.  I found a recipe with my favorite flavor combination – chocolate and peppermint!  They whipped together very quickly and I had them in the oven, then I checked the reviews on-line.  I groaned – they weren’t so favorable and I had guests coming soon!  You can’t imagine my delight at how perfectly these turned out.  I followed the recipe exactly.  The cheesecake part was creamy – like cheesecake is supposed to be and the brownie was fudgy and delicious! I served it with a little scoop of peppermint ice cream just because, and oh my, it was so good!!

If you’re looking for a lower in calorie and fat dessert, and you love chocolate and mint, you need to try these brownies! I love the swirly top, too!  These are great for any Christmas get-together!!

Peppermint Cheesecake Brownies

Ingredients

  • Cheesecake batter:
  • 1 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract The only change I made was here.  I had Peppermint OIL and it flavored the cheesecake perfectly 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Brownie batter:

  • 4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 large egg
  • Cooking spray

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 350°.

Step 2

To prepare cheesecake batter, place cheese in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add granulated sugar and peppermint extract; beat well. Add 1 egg and 1 egg white; beat well. Add 1 tablespoon flour; beat mixture just until blended.

Step 3

To prepare brownie batter, weigh or lightly spoon 5 ounces (about 1 cup) flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 5 ounces flour, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine brown sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, 2 egg whites, and 1 egg in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until well blended. Add flour mixture to brown sugar mixture; beat at low speed just until blended.

Step 4

Reserve 1/2 cup of brownie batter. Pour remaining batter into a 9-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray. Carefully pour cheesecake batter over top; spread evenly to edges. Dot cheesecake batter with reserved brownie batter. Swirl top two layers of batters together using the tip of a knife. Bake at 350° for 26 minutes or until top is set. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Chef’s Notes

You can tint the cheesecake batter with two or three drops of red food coloring to give it a pink tinge, if you like. When swirling the cheesecake and brownie batters in step 4, don’t disturb the bottom brownie layer. Cool these bars completely before serving.

 

I love mint and chocolate!  What is your favorite flavor combination?

With love from my country kitchen,

Denise Signature 150 px

Christmas · Christmas decor · Comfort

Cozy Christmas 2018 Invitation

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Years (and years) ago when I went away to college, I’ll never forget coming home for Christmas break after my first semester.  We lived out in the country on five acres and I can remember the warmth that pervaded our home even from the driveway as I approached the house.  When I stepped inside, the fire was burning, music was playing, the lights were lit and low, my mom had the best foods prepared, and best of all, my Continue reading “Cozy Christmas 2018 Invitation”

Christmas · peace

Peace Instead of Chaos At Christmas #2

We’re two weeks out from Christmas!  How’s your “peace level?”  If you find yourself in any kind of chaos instead of peace, you’re not alone.  So many struggle during this time of year when there are so many demands, expectations and voices shouting at us.

As Mary pondered the happenings going on around her during the time of Christ’s birth, I believe that those thoughts brought her peace and those same thoughts in our hearts can bring the calm we crave.

In the video today, I’m sharing three areas that will be helped at Christmas if we will think about the power of God – the kind Mary witnessed.  It’s available to us, too and it can bring us peace…sweet peace.

In which area that I mentioned do you need the power of God to overrule?

Refresh your heart with peace that comes from His power,

Denise

Christmas · Gifts

Practical Gift-Giving Guide

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My Monday’s posts are typically food related, and while today’s post does have some food, it’s primarily food ideas rather than recipes.

With Christmas approaching, I wanted to use today to share some fun and terrific gift ideas with you! Figuring out what to give people is hard for me.  Maybe it is for you too, so I thought you might appreciate some suggestions from a friend of mine. She has the gift of giving the perfect gifts! This friend is Vickie Stykes. She has prepared gift baskets to welcome our guest speakers at church or visiting missionaries in years past. She could think of such clever things to add to each basket to make it personal and useful! She has also made and purchased gifts to give away at our church’s ladies’ retreats, and trust me, those gifts are always much desired!

Some years ago Vickie shared a list of ideas with our church ladies about baskets and bags of gifts to give to certain categories of people.  Single moms, grandparents, teens, bakers, crafters,  there are gifts for all!  I’m sure you’ll find some wonderful ideas for even the hardest person to buy for!

CHRISTMAS GIFT BASKETS/BAGS
Christmas gifts do not have to be expensive, just filled with love from you. Here are some of my favorite suggestions. — Vickie Stykes

1. For the single person or newlywed couple: Make a favorite meal gift bag/box. Examples:
“Italian Feast”- Include a box of spaghetti, noodles, homemade or canned spaghetti sauce, can of mushrooms, bag of salad, loaf of bread and checked napkins to complete the gift.
“Favorite Sunday Dinner” –Prepare a roast ahead and freeze, wrap thoroughly in aluminum foil to include in gift bag/box. Include potatoes, carrots, onions, can of green beans, pkg. of rolls and homemade dessert or even a frozen fruit pie would be good. Meal can be ready in a short time.
“Pizza Please” – Include a box of pizza dough mix, pizza sauce, pkg. cheese, mushrooms, pepperoni, green pepper, onion, or any other pizza toppings you may want to include. You may also add a bag of salad mix. For an extra bonus include a pizza stone and cutter. You may want to add a video gift card for a “pizza and movie night”.

2. For the grandparents: Give car wash coupons, gas cards, favorite magazine subscriptions, grocery store gift cards or beauty/barber shop gift certificates, photo albums, etc. Decorate a gingerbread house for their Christmas enjoyment.

3. Let your children make special help make a memory album including a video or tape recording messages for those who live miles away. Include some photos throughout the year of special events, birthdays, vacations, etc.

4. Stationery Basket: Can be used as a hostess gift, for a college student, the newlyweds, grandparents, senior saint, someone recovering from surgery/illness, secretary, a special friend, teacher, etc. Include: stationery for those who still write letters or notes, thank you and various other cards, stamps, monogrammed cards or seals, address book, pen, etc.

5. For the baker – Baking Bag/Basket: Include items for baking such as 10-X sugar, chocolate chips and other flavored baking chips, nuts, cocoa, Eagle Brand Milk, cake mixes, a dessert cookbook, etc. May also include a baking sheet, spring-form pan or Bundt pan, Silpat sheet for cookies or parchment paper, cookie cutters, cookie sprinkles and cake decorating equipment, gingerbread house kit, etc. Complete kits can be purchased for around $10.00. You may even want to complete the gingerbread house and give it as a kit to someone special.

6. Wrapping Paper Bag/Basket: Include a variety of wrapping paper, gift bags, tape, scissors, blank gift cards, ribbon, tissue paper, etc.

7. Card-making Bag/Basket: Include a storage container for supplies, a variety of card stock, envelopes, decorative papers, scissors, glue sticks, stickers, etc.

8. For those serving in the military or who have served in years past: Prepare a photo frame with the soldier in uniform to give to his wife, children, or parents. If more than one generation has served in the military include photos of each one, include the branch of service, purchase military seals, etc. Make a shadow box of the soldier’s medals, hat, special pieces of uniform, etc. Use patriotic fabric as a background or include a small flag draped across background.

9. For your adult child: Prepare a history story beginning with their birth up to the present including dates, schools, friends, special events and awards, first events (first haircut, lost tooth, overnight stay, camp, etc.) 

10. Cookie Jar Recipe: Prepare a quart jar filled with layered baking ingredients for your favorite cookie recipe. Cover top with decorative fabric or paper circle, tie with ribbon and attach mixing/baking instructions. Also include a batch of the cookies with the jar if possible.

11. Hot Cocoa Mix: Prepare batch of homemade cocoa mix, place amount in zip-lock baggie for 2-3 cups. Purchase a decorative mug and place cocoa mix inside with instructions for amount to use. Give cocoa mug alone or with a dozen homemade cookies. Could also give several mug sets for a family gift and include larger amount of cocoa in decorative tin. This makes a good teacher gift, neighbor gift, doctor or special person gift, etc.

12. Recipe Book: Write your own favorite recipes, poems, stories, traditions, photos and include in a notebook as a special gift for your adult child, friend, relative, etc.

13. Basket from Grandma: Perfect gift for grown grandchild from grandmother or to give to grandparents or teachers! Include a jar of your favorite homemade jelly/jam or apple butter and a loaf of homemade bread. If you are not a bread maker, include muffins or muffin mixes to eat with jelly/jam.

14. Auto-Care Basket: Gift for a college student, grandparent, for a boy with his first car, for dad, a boss, etc. Include car wash coupons, gas cards, car deodorizers, Rain-X, Amoral, chamois cloth, car wash mop, personalized license plate, travel atlas, maps, roadside emergency kit, Kleenex, paper towels, trash container, music CD or book, etc. for unique gifts.

Be sure to bookmark this page; it will be helpful not just at Christmas, but all year long!

Which of these ideas are your favorite?

Refresh your gift-giving with a clever suggestion!

Denise