Can you tell I’m loving the new Fall Baking magazine? If you see one at your grocery store, you really should pick one up. It has just a bunch of fabulous recipes. These almond cupcakes are so good and finish off beautifully with a great buttercream frosting.(NO…you cannot use store bought frosting, this time I will tell on you)

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup finely ground almonds

1/2 teas baking powder

1/2 teas baking soda

1/4 teas salt

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teas almond extract

1/2 teas vanilla

1 cup whole buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, almonds, baking powder, baking soda and salt, whisking to combine well. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add egg and extracts, beating until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture in thirds, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating one medium speed until well combined. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.

Bake until cupcakes tests done (about 15-18 minutes)

Let cool for 30 min. Remove from the pan and let cool completely on wire rack but out of drafts (to avoid becoming dry)

Frost with frosting and chopped almonds, if desired.

Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped and reserved

In a large bowl, beat butter with mixer at high speed until creamy. Add powdered sugar,1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Add cream and beat until smooth. Add vanilla seeds (or 1 teas vanilla extract OR 1/2 teas almond extract and 1/2 teas vanilla)

Pumpkin-Chess Pie

Can I share with you how excited I got to see this recipe in Fall Baking? oh my gosh, my favorite pie, chess, combined with pumpkin! I simply cannot believe this. A new way to have chess pie with beloved pumpkin, sent me over the top.  No more boring plain ole pumpkin pie. This will be the best Thanksgiving meal EVER…oh and yes, I’m excited about our kids coming also….BUT back to the pie! Oh, ok, and the grandkids, but seriously, pumpkin-chess pie, who would have thought!!!

Ingredients

2 pie crusts (and if Paula Deen is not your absolute fav  person in the whole wide world, you can use bought, but if you do use bought, please make sure it is a good one) If you want to make your own, you are well on your way to becoming the next great  American baker!

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter

2 tables all purpose flour

4 large eggs, divided

1/2 cup whole buttermilk

1 3/4 teas vanilla (what the heck, go wild and use 2 teas, it is the holidays after all)

1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk (such as Eagle Brand)

1/2 teas ground cloves

1/2 teas ground nutmeg

1/2 teas ground ginger

1/2 teas cinnamon

*(or you could use 1 1/2 teas pumpkin pie seasoning in place of the cloves, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon)

Preheat oven to 325. Line 2 pie plates with the pie crusts and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat sugar, butter and flour together until fluffy. Add 2 eggs, buttermilk and 3/4 teas vanilla (I will use 1 teas instead of 3/4). Beat well to combine. Pour into prepared pie crusts, dividing between the two, evenly.

Bake for 30 minutes.

IN a medium bowl, combine pumpkin, condensed milk, remaining 2 eggs, remaining 1 teas vanilla, and seasonings.. Stir until well blended. Pour over cooked buttermilk layer.

Bake for 35 minutes or until set. Let cool and serve with whipped cream.

Out of the Wilderness

As many of you know, we have had some adjustments to make these past two and a half years. Changes which involved moving twice to different states, a husband learning to deal with retirement and me having to learn how to share my home with a retired husband. Leaving part of our family and moving closer to other members of our family were also part of the adjustment. We left precious friends and a church which we loved so much in California. When we were settled back in Dallas, after being gone 3 1/2 years, we felt different.  As you have always heard, “you can’t go home again” took on a whole new meaning. The church which we had been a part of back in Dallas, had changed some also and we knew in our hearts that we needed to move on to a different place which, after a few months, God showed us. Because we would not be in Texas but a few more months (after moving back there), it was hard to feel like we were home, even though Texas had been our home for most of our lives. As time grew closer to making a change once again to a brand new state, we were excited about the new season, but found it a little hard to let go of what we had always known;Our security blanket of familiar territory, old friends and family which we had gone back to Texas for after living in California. Because Randy had always worked and never really had hobbies, he struggled with the available time that he now had. So, as you can tell, we were having some real adjustments to deal with. We both have looked at life through rose colored glasses to the extent of finding humor in places others might never see. It is great to have this humorous way of looking at life, especially when circumstances, which we would not have chosen, fell into our lives. But after a while, even those of us which always prided ourselves as looking at things as a “glass half full”, seem to go through those desert emotions.

Looking back over the last 2 1/2 years, I feel that I can truly say that my joy is back. Sometimes, God has to remove things from our lives in order to teach us where our focus should be. Things like friends, familiar surroundings, certain routines, even certain church activities, which gave me purpose and so much fulfillment. Sometimes, we allow people to become so special to us, that we tend to give them first place in our lives, activities which in themselves are great, become more important than God to us. Today, the sermon was about pride and how we use social media (instagram, Twitter, FB) to gain attention to ourselves from others. Immediately, I felt convicted. How many times had I posted pictures of our home, our kids ,our achievements? What were my motives for sharing? Where they really just to share a memory, or where they to gain the approval of others?

Through the years, I have always heard that  each time you move, you grow a little and change a little. When we came here, it was hard to adjust to the different types of church services. No choirs, a little more contemporary music, younger pastors, not the Women’s Ministry that I was use to. But sitting there today listening to this precious pastor share how God is desiring a pure heart, not a proud heart, I began to realize that there was a reason we were here. Neither Randy nor I, at this moment, know exactly what God has in store for us, or how He will use us, but I do know that I want my heart pure, with the motive to only gain praise from God. In church, the order of service might not be the same as it was in Dallas, or California, but God’s Word is the same, and is still being preached for the same reason; to show us that God is desiring us to grow in our faith, realizing that He is not only our Creator, but our Heavenly Father, who loves us and wants a personal relationship with each of us.

As I end this post tonight, it is my prayer that each of us know that no matter where He takes us, no matter the season of life we are in, we all have a life which God can use for His glory. Sometimes, He just has to take us through a wilderness to become aware of His love and His provision. To get our focus back on Him.

Thank you Lord for the wildernesses which you lead us through. The sun rises which we are blessed to see every morning reminds us that each new day holds new beginnings and new purposes, which Your Love will carry us through. Help me to love you more and to allow You to use me for Your glory!

Pumpkin Upside-Down Cake

img_2954Since it is officially Fall, there are now 6 cans of pumpkin in the pantry, 3 lbs of cream cheese in the fridge and I’m ready to bake. Spotted this beautiful Fall Baking Magazine at the store so, of course, couldn’t pass it up. This will be perfect to take to card night next week, (along with s’more bites to throw in our mouths ever time we change tables, which allows me to pass right by these little gems). Janece, this ones for you!

Ingredients

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick, unless you buy the small sticks of butter, in which case would be two sticks)

1 tables water

2/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts (will use pecans)

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

3/4 cup sugar (granulated)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs (room temperature)

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teas baking powder

1 teas cinnamon (will make this a heaping teas as we love cinnamon)

1/4 teas ground ginger

1/4 teas salt

1/8 teas cloves

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8″ square baking dish with parchment paper. Spray with nonstick baking spray with flour. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, cook brown sugar, butter, and the water over medium heat until mixture bubbles, about 4 minutes. Pour sugar mixture into bottom of prepared dish; sprinkle with walnuts (pecans) and cranberry. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine pumpkin, sugar, oil and eggs. Whisk until well blended. Set aside. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt and cloves. Add pumpkin mixture, stirring to combine. Spoon batter into prepared pan and smooth top with spatula.

Bake until cake tests done, which will bake about 30-35 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes. Invert pan onto a serving platter. Remove parchment paper. Serve warm with a spoon of whipping cream, or a drizzle of caramel (or BOTH)

 

Caramel Apple Grapes

img_2946This is another recipe which we got in the class last Thursday, when we leavned about the Monster Cookies. These are so perfect to have on a platter, which can be picked up and pop in your mouth (with toothpicks). Great little party food. We had them in class and they were delicious.

Ingredients

As many seedless green grapes as you need, washed and dried

toothpicks

1 cup caramel bits

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 cup salted peanuts or pecans, crushed very fine

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine the caramel bits with the heavy cream. Stir until melted. Keep warm on lowest setting, till you have the grapes ready to begin dipping.

Dip the grapes into the caramel sauce and then into the crushed nuts. Place on a sheet of waxed paper to set.

That’s it! Pop those babies in your mouth and enjoy!

Gooey Monster Cookies

img_2922Yesterday I went to a cooking class and learned such cute and delicious, but easy recipes to use for Halloween. I have made cookies from a cake mix before but really didn’t  like them too much, UNTIL NOW! The cream cheese does the trick. The instructor teaching us these cute little “tricks” used Candy eyeballs that she got on the baking isle at Walmart “witch” made them so cute.  Be sure to use  gel (instead of water based )food coloring to the dough, as the water base will change the consistency of the cookie dough.

Ingredients

1 box Duncan Hines Cake Mix

1/2 cup butter, softened

8 oz of cream cheese, softened

1 egg

1/2 (I used 1 teas) teas vanilla

Powdered sugar

Gell Food Coloring

Candy Eyeballs or other sprinkles that you like

 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350.

Beat the softened butter, cream cheese and egg until light and fluffy. Mix in the dry cake mix. Beat until well mixed. Divide batter between individual bowls for the different colors you want to make.  Add the food coloring to your desired shade of dough. Stir well to blend.

Chill dough for 30 min to 1 hour, covered. Roll into balls (about 1″ in size) and dip in the powdered sugar, being sure ball is pretty well covered in the powdered sugar. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet and pat down with the bottom of a glass to flatten it a bit.

Bake at 350 for about 9-10 minutes. Add candy eyeballs or sprinkle when cookies are still warm.

*I have found when cooling cookies, that they tend to not get as crisp if I cool them on paper towels instead of just cooling racks. We like soft cookies so I never use cooling racks.

 

Kentucky Butter Cake

On Face Book this morning, this cake showed up and instantly I went to the fridge and took out butter to soften so I could make it later in the morning. All I can say is WOW…it is just amazing and you can make it in one bowl, which is always a plus. The glaze that oozes into the holes which you punch as soon as it comes out of the oven, just makes it even more delectable. Three different people have sampled it today, and if you could have seen the looks on their faces. This will be one of the cakes that I make through the holidays this year to sell.

Ingredients for Cake

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 eggs, room temperature

3 cups all purpose flour

1 teas baking powder

1/2 teas baking soda

2 teas vanilla

1 cup buttermilk

Ingredients for Glaze

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup butter

3 tables water

2 teas vanilla

For cake, combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat for 3 minutes and pour into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake until cake tests done. (depending on size of bundt pan, will depend on how long it bakes, I used a small bundt pan and 4 mini loaf pans, but if you use a typical size bundt, such as a 9 or 10 cup, it will need to bake about an hour).

Glaze

Combine the butter, water and vanilla in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved, but do not boil. (I added one teaspoon of the vanilla to the mixture while it was cooking and then added the last teas right before I poured the glaze over the cakes.)

When cake comes out of the oven, punch holes with end of a stick, straw or small round handle. Pour glaze over the cake allowing to drip down into the holes. Let cake cool completely before removing out of pan.

 

Mexican Wedding Soup

Randy and I love Italian Wedding soup, so when I saw this in the new Taste of Home Magazine, I got excited to see that I could have a recipe that would make it with a whole new taste. Am looking forward to having this soup over the weekend. Thanks Taste of Home!

1 tables veggie oil or canola

2 medium carrots, chopped

2 medium celery ribs, chopped

1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed

1/2 cup chopped onion*

1/2 teas garlic powder

2 qts chicken stock

1 cup soft bread crumbs

1 envelope reduced sodium taco seasoning

1 large egg

1 lb ground chicken

1  cup acini di pepe pasta

2 tables minced fresh cilantro

1/4 teas salt

Cubed avocado and sour cream

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, onion and corn; cook until tender. Stir in stock. Add garlic powder, if desired. Increase heat to high; bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, combine breadcrumbs, taco seasoning, egg and chicken; mix lightly. With wet hands, shape into 1 1/2″ balls. Reduce heat to simmer. Gently drop meatballs into stock. Cook, covered, until meatballs are no longer pink, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in pasta. Simmer, covered until pasta is tender, 6-8 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and salt. Serve with avocado and sour cream.

*I added about 1/2 teas garlic powder and the onion to the soup.

God’s Mysterious Ways

A little over a month ago, one of my dearest friends lost her 20 year old grandson, Jared, due to a sudden illness. So many questions evolved from this event that was and still is looked at as a tragedy.  Jared was such a precious Christian young man, who lived his life, not for himself, but for God and for others. During the weeks after his death, stories began to be heard of how Jared’s influence had touched so many lives. Friends and family, knowing that they could, no matter the pain and suffering they were experiencing, still always trust God’s Hand, even in the middle of this heartache. I had received a text from Cora telling me that, when we could talk, she wanted to share a story of how God was being glorified in Jared’s death. Well, today I was blessed to be able to hear the story. After hearing it, I ask permission from Cora and Becky to share it with you, as we always need to be sharing how God works in ways which only He can orchestrate.

Because Jared and his brother Andrew use to work in the summers with younger boys at a gym, coaching, this particular gym held a fund raiser this past Saturday in honor of Jared. They had  Becky, Jared’s mom, to come say a few words about Jared, which she so willingly did. During the break of Becky speaking, (she had to speak to two different groups of people, so had some time before she spoke the second time) a young lady came up to Becky and Cora and ask if she could share something with them. When Becky responded with, “yes, of course, how can we help you”, the young lady said, “oh no, I don’t need anything, but I just had to share something with you.” She proceeded to tell them that she had never been in a church before attending Jared’s memorial service and that she was just so impressed with how Becky and Darren had been able to speak so lovingly about the Lord and His faithfulness  in front of almost 2000 people about Jared. This young lady,  who saw Jared at the gym, when he was there working ,went on to say, how she was so impressed with the way everyone spoke that day of the Lord and how much He meant to them. That because of Him, they were able to have a peace that surpassed any understanding. That God’s love was so evident in the young people that gathered that day to celebrate his life. She knew from seeing Jared at the gym, that what everyone was saying about Jared was true. As she concluded her story , getting more excited with each word, that every since Jared’s service, she had gone to church every Sunday (except one, when she was out of town) .Cora said that this young lady was just elated that it was Saturday, which meant that she would getting  to go to church again that next day.

When Cora relayed this story to me, I began to cry, thinking  to myself, “shouldn’t I get that excited every week that I get to go to God’s House?” We take so much for granted and sometimes church becomes something we “need to do, or have to do” because we feel the need to honor Him. But does it honor Him when we simply go because we are suppose to?

God’s House is a building,  yes, but it is so much more. It is a place to not only gather with other Christians who want to corporately worship our Lord, but a place to bring our hearts and to surrender our wills to His. A place of prayer.  A time of quietness to be thankful for a God who has loved us so much that we want to be in His house. It should never be about us;about being entertained. It should be a time where our hearts and minds are completely yielded to Him and empty our selves of any pride, anger, bitterness or any other thing that takes our minds off of Him. Yes, this young lady’s testimony was a great reminder to me that, truly, there are people around us each day, who  have never heard about the Good News of Christ’s great love for us. That He will give us everything we need when we go through those tough times. That those tough circumstances will be much easier to handle if we don’t wait to call on God, just when we need him, but that every day, we are learning to trust and love our Creator, so that, in those tough times, we are able to feel His presence and know that He is walking through them with us.

Cora had told me that she had been wondering how God would be more glorified by Jared’s death than He would have been by his life. This is just one of those stories that is showing them that answer, and the answers just keep coming.

Psa 103:2,22 “Praise the Lord, I tell myself, and never forget the good things He does for me. 22. Praise the Lord, everything he has created, every where in his kingdom. As for me, I, too, will praise the Lord.”

As per Becky, when I ask her if she minded me sharing this story, “we don’t want to miss any opportunity to bring God glory in what He is accomplishing through our pain & grief. That there is Hope, so that we and others know it is NOT in vain.”

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Asa 147: 11 “the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.”

 

Armor of Faith

Great to remember when daily battles seem to overwhelm us!

Learning To Dance

I found myself on a battlefield

With shots being fired all around

With bullet wounds and bleeding

I crumbled to the ground

Then I saw a wall the Lord had built

Which He lovingly secured me behind

He had been building day and night

My unseen architect all this time
Behind the wall He gave new armor

Loaded me up with truth and insight

Taught me to trust His instruction

To give me victory and win the fight
Ephesians 6:10-17
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God…

View original post 99 more words