A Note to Myself

Smile,
Take it easy sometimes,
It’s okay to ask for help.
Things will be perfect when
You learn to accept them.
.

Cry,
It’s not a shameful thing
To be able to feel.
Failures and hardships,
They hurt.
.

Appreciate,
Stop undervaluing and
Belittling yourself.
Carry yourself with confidence,
Because He knows you’re perfect.
.

Love,
Learn to love yourself
With all your insecurities and flaws.
He loves you regardless,
So love yourself too.
.

Live,
You were given life,
Don’t waste it in your suffering.
Go out and experience,
You deserve it.
.

Even when it seems you’re alone in your path,
He’ll still be walking you through.
Even when you’re yelled at, underappreciated,
Wrongly accused, criticized or otherwise,
He’ll know your value and efforts.

He loves you,
So keep your head up,
Smile, love, and live life.
.

Love,
Cheryl

Footprints

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?”

The Lord replied,
“The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
is when I carried you.”

 

Been having a difficult time lately, but this poem that I’ve known since I was six has always been a source of comfort. I’ll be okay.

I am a Forest

People make some seriously inspiring stuff…it’s gorgeously simple to look at, but it must’ve taken weeks and weeks of planning, drafting, etc. as well as doing the music (which is awesome). <3!

Making of photos: http://www.behance.net/gallery/I-am-a-Forest/647122

Almond Pear Cream Cheese Torte

Let me just say this now – I really, really don’t like cheesecake. Not quite hate, but pretty darn close. I don’t know why I don’t, it’s just never appealed to me despite the  fact that it looks pretty. But despite the fact that this tastes somewhat like a cheesecake, this torte is DELISH, and that’s saying a lot. Shortbread crust, tangy but sweet filling, caramelized pears and crunchy almonds…nom nom, yes please!

I was flipping through a Kraft What’s Cooking magazine, salivating at their ridiculously mouthwatering photos (tell me I’m not the only one) when this caught my eye. First of all, I thought it looked really pretty. I LOVE it when things turn out exactly like the photo, which never happens when you’re as accident-prone as I am. Second, quickly skimming through the instructions left me thinking that, hey, this seems easy enough even for me to do! And it was, seriously. Despite the three different components, every part is super simple but the end product looks impressive. It tastes like you spent forever on it, even though the majority of the time was spent waiting for the darn thing to chill before I could nosh on it. Really, you can put it together in one hour or less, and the rest is just putting it into the oven and chilling.

I used pears, but you can use apples here too and it’d be just as yummy, I presume. The almonds don’t stand out here, but they do add a nice texture. Eh, I love almonds so I’d eat them by the handful regardless. ANYWAYS. The only somewhat difficult part is probably pressing the crust into the pan — that took awhile, but that was my fault because I kept on trying to make perfect edges, then realizing that the filling wouldn’t even go that high, and smooshing it back down. Really, if I’d just follow instructions…OH ME.

Almond Pear Cream Cheese Torte

Adapted from Kraft

Makes: 12 servings (1 9″ torte)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 pkg. (250g) brick cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups sliced peeled pears (about 4 medium pears – I only used 3)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Beat butter and 1/3 cup of the sugar in small bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add flour; mix well. Spread firmly onto bottom and 1 in. up side of 9-in. springform pan.
  2. Beat cream cheese and 1/3 cup of the remaining sugar in same bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Spread evenly over crust. Combine remaining 1/3 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Add to pears in large bowl; toss to coat. Arrange over cream cheese layer; sprinkle with almonds.
  3. Bake 10 min. Reduce temperature to 375°F; continue baking 25 min. or until centre is set. Cool on wire rack. Loosen torte from rim of pan. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours before serving. Store leftover torte in refrigerator.

Mango Popsicles

This’ll be a short post — this really isn’t much of a recipe anyways. I had a box of mangoes lying around rotting away, so I decided to pretty much improv a recipe. My mangoes were getting overripe, so there was about half of a mango that I had to just throw away, but these turned out REALLY yummy. All I did was chop up some mangoes, chuck it into a blender, add some water and sugar and froze it. Done! :)

Mango Popsicles

Makes 12 small popsicles

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe mangoes
  • 1/4 cup of sugar, or to taste
  • water, to thin

Directions:

  1. Wash, peel and chop mangoes into cubes. Blend with 1/4 cup sugar or to taste. Add water as needed to thin.
  2. Pour into small disposable paper cups. Put a popsicle stick into each and freeze until solid (about 4 hours). To remove paper liner, snip the edge of the cup and tear off.

Gingerbread Cake

I’m not exactly one of those people who long for fall or winter while it’s summertime. In fact, I’m anything but that. I LOVE summer and all its sunshine, picnics and barbecues, vacations and sightseeing and get-togethers. Heck, I even love the heat.

So I have NO idea why I decided to make this. Originally, I was planning on doing something with yeast, since I haven’t made anything with yeast in quite a long time and I miss kneading and rising and all that fun stuff. But then i decided last minute that I wanted to make something quick. I could have picked from a hundred different summery recipes, so I honestly don’t know what got me to make this.

But I’m glad I did! They’re very moist and fragrant, especially since I substituted some of the butter with oil to make it more moist and a liiiiittle bit healthier. Yeah. Sort of. I was pretty generous with the spices, since I absolutely love cinnamon, and I added in quite a bit of vanilla just cause. Don’t be afraid to add extra spices! And the TEXTURE…it’s crumbly, soft and fluffy, and as I said before, very moist. Also, moist is an ugly word and should be permanently replaced by another word…such an icky word to describe something nice :(

But I digress. LOL.

Anyways, the first time I made this was last Christmas (cue impromptu singing and dancing – I know you break out into song too), and it turned out perfect for the season. I made it in two 8″ square pans, so that it would take up less space when I brought it up to the ski resort, where we go yearly during Christmastime. If you do bake it in two 8″ square pans, just check on it a few minutes earlier and it’ll be fine. This time, I made it in one 9″x13″ glass pan, so I turned down the temperature by 25 degrees (to accommodate for the fact that the pan was made of glass) and baked it for about 40 minutes.

Om nom nom, so good. I cut them into small squares so that I didn’t have to feel guilty shoving one after another into my face. That is, until after three or four…or more…

By the way – random but true – in the shots that have a glass of “milk” in them, I didn’t actually use milk. I used whipping cream instead, and just poured it back into  the carton when I was done. I, uh, RAN OUT of milk. Yup, only in my family do we ever run out of milk. It happens quite a lot, actually! But when we do buy milk, we’ll buy extra and freeze that, then defrost it on the counter when we need a new bag. Yeah. So at any given time there’s probably a bag of frozen solid milk on the counter that could break a window and kill someone…yeah. JEN + CAROL, stop giving me those weird looks LOL.

Gingerbread Cake

Adapted  from Epicurious

Makes: 24 squares

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I upped this to 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger (I upped this to 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional; I like this combination of spices)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shortening (I used 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup oil instead)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I upped this to scant 3/4 cup sugar)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup molasses mixed with 1 cup hot water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift together flour, baking soda, spices and salt.
  3. Beat together shortening, sugar, and egg in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. In 3 batches, alternately beat in flour mixture and molasses mixture at low speed until smooth. Pour batter into a greased 9×13 inch pan or two 8×8 inch pans. Smooth top.
  4. Bake cake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean (30 minutes for 8×8 pans and 40 minutes for a 9×13 pan). Cool cake in pan on a rack. Slice into squares. Cake keeps covered, in pan at room temperature for 2 days.

Sifting together the dry ingredients.

Rest of the ingredients, other than molasses/hot water and vanilla. I’m not very organized, haha.

Mmm, perfect with milk! Now if only I had some, haha.

Lamingtons

I’ve never had a lamington before, but they sounded delish! They’re basically little cubes of sponge cake, covered in chocolate and rolled in dessicated coconut. After watching too much communitychannel, a.k.a. Natalie Tran, who is srsly bundles and bundles of awesome…and keeps breaking her promise to make lamingtons (angry face!), I decided I’d make some myself.

I HAD IT ALL PLANNED OUT. Or so I thought. The sponge cake recipe that I’d made before was amazing — soft, fluffy, delicious, pillowy and awesome. I bought some dessicated coconut on my hike to the grocery store. I had some amazing Ghiradelli cocoa powder that I LOVE, despite the fact that I don’t really like chocolate (blasphemy, my bad).

But for lamingtons, you’re not exactly supposed to use squishy, soft, perfect pieces of sponge cake; apparently this was a method to freshen up STALE cake. So the moment I dropped my first piece of of cake into the chocolate, the heavy chocolate TORE at the cake, leaving crumbs and often whole hunks of perfectly good cake in the once pristine chocolate sauce. While I was  thinking I’d be able to get maybe 16 lamingtons when I was finished, it turns out that I only ended up with 8 that were decent looking enough. CRY.

These were so soft and cushy that even when I set them on the cooling rack to set, the rack left deep indentations on the bottom of the lamingtons. Ah well, on the other hand, despite being ridiculously hard to coat, they were REALLY YUMMY. The cake is seriously good, whether by itself or made into lamingtons this way. The whole thing is very moist and chocolatey, especially since I cut my cake into very small cubes for lamingtons — these are about 1.5″ cubes or less. I love coconut, so nothing really to say there LOL. The only drawback, I’d say, in terms of taste, is that they were a little too sweet, probably because of the high coating to cake ratio I made mine into. I think if  they were bigger they’d lose their charm, though. Maybe I’ll just use less sugar and thin down the chocolate coating more next time. As well as find a sturdier cake to work with! No worries, I’d definitely make these again.

In any case, you HAVE to make this sponge cake. Or lamingtons. But not lamingtons using this sponge cake, LOL, unless you want to have a fun time fishing out cake remains from your chocolate. Just sayin’. I’d probably use Mowie’s recipe for the whole thing but halve it and bake them in two 8″ square tins instead.

I set them in small sized cupcake liners so that it’d be easier to handle, and I think they look a little neater that way too. Alright, onto the recipe! :)

This is ALL you need to make the sponge cake. The butter hasn’t been melted yet, though.

You might want to find a pound cake or sponge cake recipe that’s a little sturdier than this though, although this is DELISH with berries and cream :)

Lamingtons

Adapted from here (for the sponge cake) and here (for the coating)

Makes: 16 (in theory, if you’re VERY good at dipping without the cake falling apart on you, you’d get 16…I only got 8! You may want to double this recipe to make sure you get enough)

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 40g cake flour, sifted (I don’t have cake flour, so I just measured all purpose flour, took out 1tbsp, and replaced it with 1tbsp cornstarch)
  • 30g melted butter
  • ~1/2 cup dessicated coconut
  • 130g icing sugar (I’d use 100g or less next time, since this was a little too sweet for me)
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 17g melted butter
  • 35 mL hot water (I ended up using more than this, just adding until I thought it was liquidy enough. Use this much to start with, though)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line one 8″ square pan with parchment paper.
  2. Fill a saucepan 1/4 full with water and bring to a boil. Beat the eggs with the sugar on medium high speed over the water bath until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and continue beating until thick, pale, and free of visible bubbles (ribbon stage). (I like using this method because the sugar melts and the eggs beat up fluffier when they’re warm)
  3. Beat in the vanilla. Incorporate the flour in three additions and fold carefully to not lose too much air.
  4. Fold in the melted butter until well mixed.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 16-20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Cut off all the edges and crusts. Cut into 1.5″ cubes or whatever size you would like them to be.
  6. For the coating: whisk together icing sugar, cocoa powder and hot water together in a bowl. Fold in the melted butter.
  7. Dip all sides of the sponge cubes into the chocolate mixture and then toss the cubes through dessicated coconut to cover. Allow to harden on a wire rack, then refrigerate to fully solidify.

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