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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Little Acts of Kindness Day 5:

The next time you are at a restaurant tip well regardless of how your server performs.  If you are normally a good tipper, do just a little more.

Happy New Year!: Highlights from Saturday's Show


Good Morning and Happy New Year!  Throughout the morning we spoke about the New Year and also some things that I hope you remember as you are making any and all resolutions for this upcoming year.  So I thought I would recap some of my thoughts here. 

I was talking to my friend Stephanie Thursday about the New Year and she made a valid point.  A lot of times we try to bite off more than we can chew when making New Year’s Resolutions.  So make sure that you don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself by that I mean don’t sign up for the mini-marathon before you can run a half mile.  You can, and I believe you will accomplish your goals for this year, but there are somethings that naturally take time.  So give yourself the same grace that God gives you as you set out on your challenge.  Psalm 54:4 says Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.

Also, please keep this in mind when you start thinking about what you want to challenge yourself with this year.  Make sure you don’t think to much about how far we have to go in reaching your goals that you forget to celebrate how far you’ve already come.  Celebrate yourself and all that God has helped you accomplish.  Be proud of yourself for setting new goals and let God be your strength as you try new or challenging things this year. 

I was reading Matthew chapter 22 verses 37-39; in the verses Jesus is talking about the greatest commandments are to first love God with everything you’ve got and then the second is to love people as we love ourselves.  So basically we should be “love focused” in everything we do.  So I feel that in making our resolutions for the New Year, we should let love be in the center of them.  First Give yourself the grace and the love that you deserve when you are thinking about how you want to challenge yourself.  Let some of your goals be things that will make a positive loving impact on your world.  And as always we should make sure that everything we do gives God glory in our lives. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Little Acts of Kindness Day 4

Take a moment to give detailed directions to someone who is lost even though you are rushing

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Little Acts of Kindness Day 3

Leave someone in your life a note that tells them something that you really appreciate about them.

Renewal: Highlights from this Morning's Show

Renew Your Mind:
This morning as I was reading a quick devotional for the day, it really meant a lot to me.  It spoke about making sure that we keep our thoughts in check.  It's easy to allow our stress or worries to consume us and then before you know it you are thinking more about what might go wrong than about what God has promised in the Bible for those who love Him.  So the next time you're thoughts are running away with you, remind yourself of things that God has done for you in the past and remind yourself of all of the promises that He has given you for the future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Renewed Wellness: Here are a couple of key things to make sure you keep yourself and your family well all winter long.  Keep in mind germs from coughing with uncovered mouths travel 6 to 8 feet!
  • Eat Bright Colors: Eat the brightest and most colorful fruits and veggies.  They are packed with the most vitamins and nutrients that boost your immune system.  Add as much color and variety to your meals as you can.
  • Sleep Deep: Research suggests that only about a third of Americans get the seven to nine hours of shut-eye required to help keep their immune systems operating at full throttle.  Those who averaged fewer than seven hours a night were three times more likely to catch a cold than those who clocked eight or more regularly. We produce the hormone melatonin during nighttime sleep, which prompts a key type of immune cells to destroy infected ones. Over time, less sleep leads to  a subpar immune system.
  • Eliminate Stress: Our immune systems are highly sensitive to stress. A study in Health Psychology suggests that chronic stress, or intense pressure lasting a month or longer, can make you more than two times as likely to get sick when you’re exposed to a cold virus compared with someone who isn’t overstressed.
  • Scrub and Sanitize: Common knowledge, but the CDC says that in order to kill germs, you’ve got to be thorough. Lather up and scrub every crevice, including between your fingers and under your nails. Take your time, at least 20 seconds before you rinse and dry.  Wash your hands, door knobs, phones, counters, and anything else that could be contaminated by cold germs. 
  • Travel Wisely: Confined space, lots of people, and dry air.  Cold viruses thrive in this environment.  According to a study from the University of Nottingham in England, those who took public transportation were six times more likely to suffer from respiratory infections than those who didn't.
  • Turn off the Heat: Finishing a warm shower with a blast of chilly water may create a reflex action that supports immunity by stimulating lymphatic circulation.     Article Referenced


 New Hope:  With just a couple of days left of 2011, it's a good time for reflection, but it's also a good time to build up a great expectation for what God has for you in this New Year.  If this has been a great year, give God praise.  If it's been a difficult year for your family.  Hang in there. God has a good plan for your life, and always completes in us what He has started.  Phillippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Lets look forward to good things together! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Little Acts of Kindness Day 2:

Ask someone how they are really doing today, and then listen intently to everything they have to say before you reply.

Get Fit Trends: Highlights from this Morning's Show

Fitness Trends for 2012

This morning I mentioned that those who have added Fitness to their New Year's Resolution lists can expect some new trends in 2012.  It looks as if health and fitness experts will be working hard in the New Year to make getting fit easy & affordable for everyone. 

Here's some things that will be Trending in 2012:

  • Lower Cost Health Clubs & Gyms:  Expect some quality low-cost gyms monthly fees to dip as low as $10 a month.
  • High Intensity At-Home Programs:  Specialized circuit-trainint programs will be more readily available for seasoned excercisers who want to work out at home or on the go.
  • Streaming Workout Videos:  More workout content providers are starting to offer subscription-based streaming of their workout videos offering fitness lovers more variety for their workout.
  • Unique Training Tools: like TRX suspension training systems are becoming more popular gym features.
  • Use of Technology:  Fitness apps, Nike+ Pedometers/Running Technology, Online food journals, Social Networking sites, and emails.  Technological advances make it easier that ever to track your progress, keep food journals, and seek motivation on your fitness journey. 
  • Small Group Training: Jam-packed fitness classes leave beginners feeling lost and everyone else feeling like you aren't getting enough personal attention to spurn your maximum progress.  Small Group Sessions of around 6 so that everyone gets attention they need.
  • New Approach to Goal Setting: Strong is the new skinny.  Fitness goals are being set with strength in mind instead of focusing solely on losing weight.  Article Referenced


ARTIST NEWS:
Francesca Battistelli announced via Twitter over the Christmas holiday that she and her husband are expecting baby #2!  We wish her and her family the very best.  Francesca's Website is: www.francescamusic.com/





Mirror Mirror
In the image driven world we live in, it is easy to lose perspective of who we really are.  More people than ever seem to be dealing with problems with their self esteem.  Yesterday, I was reading a story written by a lady named Noelle and she was describing an encounter that she had with a friend of hers.  She noticed over tea that her friend had a photo of her on her bulletin board in her kitchen for everyone to see.  When she saw the photo she found herself cringing.  She thought that the image was horrible, and felt humiliated to have it displayed.  Noelle told how she began making negative comments about her appearance.  She thought her face was too round, her smile was all wrong, and she hated her nose crinkles.  Her friend then began to explain why she loved the picture.  She told her that she has a way of laughing that makes her whole face light up, and that she loves that about her.  Noelle described how her other friends all had similar photos of her laughing posted in their homes.  She went on to talk about how her friends showed her some things about herself that she'd never seen before.  Next time you are tempted to look at part of your image or personality negatively, remember that like Noelle you aren't seeing all of the wonderful things about you that everyone else finds so very special.  You are valuable.  (Psalm 139:14).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Little Acts of Kindness Day 1: Resolute Kindness

Resolute Kindness

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." Aesop

This morning I mentioned that I tend to have trouble with my New Year's Resolutions. I make a huge list of things that I am probably really not determined enough to keep in the first place. This year, it's my goal to show more kindness. I want to make more of a difference this year. I've found that if you look for opportunities to show kindness to those around you, you will find them... in abundance. The key tends to be to not grow so distracted that we fail to look. Throughout the month of January, it is also going to be my Blogging goal to post a new Kindness Idea each day. I'll keep it going as long as I can. Feel free to share your ideas as well.

#1 Rush Hour Kindness
Today's idea is one that is uber easy to do, but so very easy to forget about - especially when we are in a hurry. Show some rush hour kindness by letting a fellow driver merge into your lane or before turning allow another driver who has been waiting for the right of way to exit a parking lot or street. It is so simple, but such a huge blessing when you are on the receiving end of this kindness.

Optimism: Highlights from the Morning Show

Optimism and other Boosts for your Mood:
As we transition from Christmas to the New Year, here are some tips for staying Optimistic and keeping your spirit up throughout the season and into the New Year.
  • Quiet Optimism: Did you know that taking time for yourself is linked to having a more optimistic outlook? If one of your goals is to be more optimistic this year, then studies show that you should spend time in quiet thought or prayer. Even if you only have a few minutes spent in quiet contemplation you will see noticeable benefits. The group of adults studied spent an average of six hours and 13 minutes over the course of five weeks  which translates to a couple of minutes a day.  The study showed patterns of brain activity typically associated with positive moods increased. 

  • Breathe Easy: The short, shallow gulps of air most of us take when we're tense make us light-headed and even edgier. That's why Robin Ehrlich, director of New York City's Eastside Massage Therapy Center (and just about every other stress expert interviewed), suggests that when you're feeling frantic you should stop, close your eyes and refocus your breathing pattern. "Shifting to deep breathing will soothe your nerves, send oxygen to your brain and refresh your mind," she explains. Inhale slowly through your nose to the count of eight. Fill your belly—not your chest—with air. Exhale through your mouth to the count of 10 to 16. Repeat five to ten times, until you feel calmer.

ARTIST NEWS:
Sidewalk Prophets: The Sidewalk Prophets have a new album coming out March 27, 2012.  They would like fans to be a part of the cover for the new album Live Like That. Tell them about someone in your life that inspires you who you’ve seen live in such a way that it makes YOU say “I want to live like that”.   More info is available: http://www.sidewalkprophets.com/
Mercy Me:  Bart Millard of Mercy Me tweeted over the weekend that you can expect their next album this Spring. The title of that album is titled "The Hurt and the Healer"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Very Traditional Christmas: Highlights from this Morning's Show


My Christmas Memories: 

This morning we spoke a bit about Christmas traditions.  Traditions are wonderful little bits of home that you can carry with you whereever you go and they are as unique as each of our families and friends.  My family has a lot of little things that we just do together each year.  They are very much a part of Traditional Christmas for me, but when I think of Christmas no one thing stands out.  It all comes rushing back in one warm and cozy assortment of memories.  Every year I watch White Christmas with my mom, just the two of us.  Christmas tree decorating must always be accompanied by favorite Christmas cds and everyone singing along.  Growing up, we would watch traditional Christmas Clay-mation cartoons while baking Chocolate Chip cookies and a few Oatmeal Raisin just for my dad.  We would celebrate with extended family on Christmas Eve and do a lot of traveling that day.  Most of my Christmas memories, consist of everyone gathering in the Kitchen of whomever was hosting the get together.  The menu for those get togethers is very much a tradition for us.  I can pretty much name all of the signature dishes on the menu and guarantee they will be waiting.  We keep Christmas dinner simpler in some ways than Thanksgiving, but many of the sides are the same.  My parents always reserved the gifts around the tree for Christmas morning.  One year I remember my mom broke her rule, and let us open one gift a piece on Christmas Eve.  I opened a beautiful ballerina doll that I still have tucked away somewhere.    Following Christmas morning gifts is breakfast and then a nice dinner that evening.

The Tradition Ideas that I mentioned this Morning are:
  • One of my closest friend's has a really tremendous thing that she and her family will do every year.  They prepare food boxes and they will drive around the city to areas that have been hit harder by the economy and pass out free lunches.  Maybe thats a tradition that you and your family would like to start doing. You could make a Christmas dinner and deliver it to a family less fortunate than yours or maybe you could just pack up little boxes of Christmas cookies and share your fabulous baking skills.
  • Instead of placing gifts in stockings, hide the gifts and tuck clues into the stocking about where the gifts have been hidden. Have the kids (or even the adults) go on a treasure hunt Christmas morning.  Or you can flip that idea around.  A friend of mine was telling me that her husband's family has a tradition where they hide the entire stocking.  Each person is given their first clue, and keep searching for clues until they find their stocking.
  • After the Morning show, I was talking with a couple of friends and one of them mentioned that he and his wife have come up with a tradition that instead of purchasing Christmas gifts for each other, they will help another couple by buying gifts for their children.

Other Ideas are...
  • Have a cookie-baking party. Supply ingredients and make cookies with your family or friends to give as gifts.

  • Adopt a charity or cause and give a gift that helps it succeed in its mission.

  • When it's time to trim the tree, play carols and serve cookies, make it a party. Do the same thing when it's time to put the tree and the trimmings away. Turn a chore into a pleasure. It's all in how you see it.

  • Purchase puzzles, card games, art supplies and craft kits as gifts that you can have fun doing with the kids. You can even have your family photo made into a puzzle.

  • Have a gift-making day with your family. Knit a bright red scarf for grandma (this only takes a few hours), make photo collage coasters from old cd cases, make personalized stationery or cards, or gather pine cones for handmade ornaments. 

  • Go Caroling.  Bonus points if you share your caroling skills with your neighborhood.

  • Create a Christmas breakfast tradition for your family & repeat it each year: banana-nut pancakes, cinnamon French toast, your best muffin recipe, or a traditional Farmer's Breakfast.  Make something that warms the heart and the tummy.

  • Make Hot Chocolate and cookies then gather around for Christmas Stories.


  • Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    View of the Dream Tree Highlights from this Morning's Show

    WJIE Christmas Dream Tree
    Note: Image does not show gifts from Mandisa Concert
    This is what I saw when I came into the studio this morning! Our incredible listeners have really been a huge blessing in showing their support for the Christmas Dream Tree.  Lots of families in the community will have a very Merry Christmas thanks to your generosity!

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    Cupcake Day




    It's National Cupcake Day.  Enjoy a cupcake today!  You deserve it.   :) 

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Day 12: Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Cookies


    Day 12:  Cranberry Walnut Oatmeal Cookies

    This is my favorite way to make Oatmeal Cookies.  Hope you like them.  Enjoy!








    Ingredients

    No-Stick Cooking Spray
    3/4 cup Crisco® Butter Shortening Sticks
    3/4 cup sugar
    3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    2 large eggs
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1 cup All Purpose Flour
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    2 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
    1 cup dried cranberries
    1 cup chopped walnuts

    Directions
    Preheat oven to 350° F.
    Coat baking sheets with no-stick cooking spray.
    BEAT shortening, sugar and brown sugar in large bowl at medium speed of electric mixer until blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in small bowl. Beat into shortening mixture until smooth. Stir in oats, dried cranberries and walnuts. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls about 2-inches apart on prepared baking sheets. BAKE 10 to 12 minutes or until light brown. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes. Place on cooling rack to cool completely.

    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    Day 11: Cocoa Almond Biscotti


    Day 11: Cocoa Almond Biscotti


    Biscotti are elegantly sliced, intensely crunchy Italian cookies, perfect for dunking into a cup of hot coffee. The crunch comes from baking these little delights twice.  Biscotti is one of my favorite treats, perfect for breakfast or dessert.
    Enjoy!


    Ingredients
     
    1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened 
    1 cup sugar 
    2 large eggs 
    1 1/2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
    2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
    1/4 teaspoon salt 
    1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
    1 (6-ounce) can whole almonds (1 cup) 

    Directions
    Preheat oven to 350° F.
    Combine butter and sugar in a large bowl; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, beating well. Mix in chocolate syrup. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in almonds. Divide dough in half; shape each portion into a 9x2 inch log on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until firm. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Cut each log diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices with a serrated knife using a gentle sawing motion. Place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 5 to 7 minutes. Turn cookies over, and bake 5 to 7 additional minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.

    Random Kindness.

    This is seriously cool!


    30 gifts to 30 strangers in Sydney from Lucas Jatoba on Vimeo.

    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    Day 10: Gingerbread Snowflake Cookies


    Day 10:  Gingerbread Snowflake Cookies

    Ginger people aren't the only cute ways to use gingerbread.  What about making some snow.  Here is an excellent little cookie to go with your morning coffee and your other gingerbread creations.  Enjoy!



    Ingredients
     
    6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
    1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
    4 teaspoons ground ginger
    4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
    1 teaspoon finely ground pepper
    1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
    2 large eggs
    1 cup unsulfured molasses
    Royal Icing (Recipe Below)
    Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling

    Directions
    Preheat oven to 350° F.
    Sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Set aside.  Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Divide dough into thirds; wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.  Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into snowflakes with a 7- inch snowflake-shape cookie cutter. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.  Bake cookies until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.  Put icing in a pastry bag fitted with a small plain round tip (such as Ateco #7). Pipe designs on snowflakes; immediately sprinkle with sanding sugar. Let stand 5 minutes; tap off excess sugar. Let icing set completely at room temperature, about 1 hour

    Royal Icing Ingredients
    Yield Makes about 2 1/2 cups
    2 large egg whites, or more to thin icing
    4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar, or more to thicken icing
    1 lemon, juiced

    Royal Icing Directions
    Beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar and lemon juice; beat for 1 minute more. If icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it is too thin, add more sugar. The icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Day 9: Cranberry Pecan Rugalach


    Day 9:  Cranberry Pecan Rugalach


    Hope you try this version of this European Jewish Pastry, Rugalach.  I've always planned to try it.  I think this recipe ensured that it will be part of my Christmas baking this year.  Looks so yummy.  Enjoy!



    Ingredients
    1 cup butter, softened 
    1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened 
    1/2 cup granulated sugar 
    2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 
    1/2 teaspoon salt 
    Cranberry-Pecan Filling (See Separate Recipe Below)
    1 large egg, lightly beaten 
    1/2 cup sparkling sugar

    Directions
    Preheat oven to 350° F. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add granulated sugar, beating until fluffy. Stir in flour and salt. Divide dough into 8 equal portions; flatten each portion into a disk; wrap each disk separately in plastic wrap. Chill 8 hours.  Roll 1 portion of dough at a time into an 8-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Spread with 3 tablespoons Cranberry-Pecan Filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border around edge. Cut circle into 8 wedges; roll up wedges, starting at wide end, to form a crescent shape. Place, point side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush gently with egg; sprinkle evenly with sparkling sugar. Repeat procedure with remaining dough and filling.  Bake at 350° on a lightly greased baking sheet for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
    Note: Sparkling sugar is available at stores that sell cake-decorating supplies.

    Cranberry Pecan Filling Recipe
    3/4 cup sugar 
    2/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted 
    2/3 cup finely chopped sweetened dried cranberries* 
    1/2 cup butter, melted 
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
    3/4 teaspoon ground allspice

    Preparation for Cranberry Pecan Filling
    Stir together all ingredients until blended.
    *2/3 cup finely chopped dried cherries or apricots can be substituted for cranberries.

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Day 8: Double Feature - Brownie Cookies (2 Recipes)


    Day 8:  Double Feature - Brownie Cookies (2 Recipes)

    Today is National Brownie Day.  Take some time to relax and enjoy a rich, fudge brownie in honor of the occasion. Many sources say that brownies originated in New England during the early twentieth century, but there are many variations to the tale. One story says that a Boston chef mistakenly added melted chocolate to a batch of biscuits, thus creating the first brownies. Another version claims that a housewife in Bangor, Maine was making a chocolate cake but forgot to add baking powder. The cake did not rise properly and, instead of throwing it out, she served it in flat pieces.
    Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies


    Keeping with the 12 Days of Cookies Theme, here is are two Brownie Cookie Recipes.  Since I found two recipes; I'll post them both since they look so great.  Enjoy.


    Double Chocolate Brownie Cookies
    Ingredients
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
    3/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
    1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
    1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
    1/2 cup honey
    7 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
    1/4 cup granulated sugar


    Directions
    Preheat oven to 325 F. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat butter and brown sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add honey, and beat until fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and beat until well combined. Mix in chocolate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Drop heaping teaspoons of dough into granulated sugar. Roll to coat, shaping into balls. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart. Bake until tops are cracking and cookies are just set, about 9 minutes.  Transfer sheets to wire racks, and let cool.

    Brownie Cookies

    Southern Living's Brownie Cookies
    Ingredients
    1/2 cup butter
    4 (1-oz.) unsweetened chocolate baking squares, chopped 
    3 cups chocolate chips, divided 
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
    1/2 teaspoon salt 
    4 large eggs 
    1 1/2 cups sugar 
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
    2 cups chopped pecans



    Directions
    Preheat oven to 350 F.  
    1. Combine butter, unsweetened chocolate, and 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips in a large heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until butter and chocolate melt; cool.
    2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
    3. Beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer. Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture, beating well. Add chocolate mixture; beat well. Stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips and pecans.
    4. Drop dough by 2 tablespoonfuls 1 inch apart onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
    5. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool slightly on baking sheets; remove to wire racks to cool completely.



    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    Day 7: Snickerdoodles


    Day 7:  Snickerdoodle Cookies

    Here is another variation of a classic.  I've got some great elementary school memories of these little cookies, and some friends of mine mentioned that these are their favorites.  Enjoy!





    Ingredients
    2 3/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoon(s) cream of tartar
    1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
    8 tablespoon(s) (1 stick) unsalted butter
    1/2 cup(s) pure vegetable shortening
    1 3/4 cup(s) sugar, plus more if needed
    2 tablespoon(s) ground cinnamon, plus more if needed
    2 large eggs

    Directions
    Preheat oven to 400F.  


    1. With one rack in top third and one rack in bottom third of oven. Line baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
    2. Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter, shortening, and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs, and beat to combine. Add dry ingredients, and beat to combine.
    3. In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar and the ground cinnamon. Use a small (1 1/4-ounce) ice-cream scoop to form balls of the dough, and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until the cookies are set in center and begin to crack (they will not brown), about 10 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after 5 minutes. Transfer the sheets to a wire rack to cool about 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to the rack. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.



    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    When mistakes turn into really good muffins...

    I promise that not all of my posts will be food related.  This one is coming a little late I suppose, but I just never found time to write it.

    I had planned Thanksgiving Dinner completely over the course of a couple of weeks.  In the past it has always been a family collaboration, but this year I got to make dinner for my family, and I was excited.  I wanted elegance and perfection.  For the most part, the dinner turned out well but there were some things that I thought were pure disasters.  One of those was the Sweet Potato Casserole. 

    There is only one recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole that my mom really loves.  It is a recipe that she was given a long time ago.  I looked everywhere for the recipe, but I couldn't find it anywhere.  Long story short after about an hour, I finally found the recipe; but my can of yams had somehow been damaged and was unusable.  The only can of yams I could find at that point was this giant economy-sized can left over from some event.  In my excitement over finding the right recipe and a usable can of yams I forgot to double or even triple the other ingredients of the casserole.  So my giant can of yams ended up making the casserole runny.  I wasn't a very happy girl. 

    It was yet another example of my misplaced focus.  I was so focused on making everything perfect and on all of the things that weren't turning out that I was missing everything that was beautiful about Thanksgiving.  I wanted my first attempt at a Thanksgiving Dinner to be perfect... which was completely ridiculous.  After I realized that the Sweet Potato Casserole wasn't going to happen, I handled it like any mature self-respecting person would.  I put it in the refrigerator so I wouldn't have to look at it for a couple of days.  My mom suggested draining the sweet potatoes and turning them into a pie.  Later, she ended up taking the casserole, draining the sweet potatoes, and making some amazingly good muffins (Recipe below). Isn't that just how life is.  This morning I was thinking about my life, how my plans have not always turned out the way I imagined, and that this usually leaves me frustrated.  Yet time and time again, God has this amazing way of taking the things that I consider ruined and turning them into something unbelievably good.  God promises us in Romans 8:28 that God works all things for the good of those who love Him.  So if things in your world aren't exactly as you would like them to be, hang in there.  Something sweet will come out of this.

    Sweet Potato Muffins

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
    • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

    Note: The muffins my mom made already had some cream and other ingredients of Sweet Potato Casserole in them so the taste will vary from this recipe.  I can post her Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe if you are interested.

    Directions

    1. Combine sugar and oil; beat well. Add eggs and beat. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture alternately with water. Stir in sweet potatoes and chopped nuts.
    2. Pour batter into greased 9x5 inch loaf pan (or 2 small loaf pans). Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about one hour.

    Nutritional Information 

    Amount Per Serving  Calories: 303 | Total Fat: 13.5g | Cholesterol: 35mg

    Trees Full of Mittens and Mangers with Camels: Highlights from this Morning's Show

    
    National Mitten Tree Day
     Today is National Mitten Tree Day.  It was always fun for me as a student to participate in the Mitten Tree.  Donating mittens, scarfs, and other winter necessities are another wonderful way to spread some Christmas kindness.  At 88.5 WJIE, we have a Christmas Dream Tree, the Salvation Army has the Angel Tree.  However, you choose to give back this season, I know that it will bring you and your family tremendous joy and the individuals you help will be so grateful.




    Pastor Rick Burdette of Fern Creek Christian Church stopped by the studio this morning to share about a fabulous Living Nativity they will be hosting this year on December 16 & 17 from 7:00 - 9:00 pm each evening.  Be sure to stop by and see Pastor Rick's favorite animal guest, the Camel.  Click on the link above for info.

    Day 6: Chai Tea Eggnog Cookies


    Day 6: Chai Tea Eggnog Cookies

    This recipe sounds like it would be a wonderful pairing to a cup of coffee.  I have not tried it, but it sounds uniquely wonderful.  When I try them I will give you a review.  Let me know what you think.


    Ingredients

    1 chai tea bag
    1 (17.5-oz.) package sugar cookie mix
    1/2 cup melted butter
    1 large egg 
    4 tablespoons eggnog, divided 
    Parchment paper
    Cinnamon sugar
    1 cup powdered sugar
    1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

    Directions
    Preheat oven to 350F.  
    1.  Remove tea leaves from tea bag; discard bag.
    2. Stir together tea leaves, cookie mix, butter, egg, and 2 Tbsp. eggnog until well blended.
    3. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Flatten dough slightly with bottom of a glass dipped in cinnamon sugar.
    4. Bake at 350° for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from baking sheet to a wire rack, and cool completely (about 10 minutes).
    5. Whisk together powdered sugar, nutmeg, and remaining 2 Tbsp. eggnog until smooth. Spoon over cooled cookies.

    Note:  Recipe was tested with Tazo Chai Organic Black Tea.

    Monday, December 5, 2011

    Day 5: Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies


    Day 5: Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

    For me, nothing says Christmas Cookie like a classic Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.  Chocolate Chip Cookies have always been a favorite of mine.  Enjoy!


    Psst... Here's a hint:
    Using Crisco Butter Flavored Baking sticks in your cookies help them stay crispy and hold that beautiful thick cookie form.  It is a tip an aunt taught me that I've used with all my cookies regardless of the recipe for several years now, and they always turn out picture perfect and taste great.

    Ingredients
     
    3/4 cup Butter or Crisco® Butter Flavored Baking Sticks (In the baking aisle near Cookingspray)
    1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
    2 tbsps. milk
    1 tbsp. vanilla extract
    1 large egg
    1 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour
    1 tsp. salt
    3/4 tsp. baking soda
    1 cup  semi-sweet chocolate chips
    1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (optional)
    If you omit nuts, add ½ cup more chocolate chips

    Directions
    Preheat oven to 375 F.

    COMBINE  butter or shortening with brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl. Beat at medium speed of electric mixer until well blended. Beat in egg. Combine flour, salt and baking soda. Mix into shortening mixture until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

    DROP by rounded measuring tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheet.

    BAKE 8 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies, or 11 to 13 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet on a cooling rack. Remove cookies to rack to cool completely.

    Sunday, December 4, 2011

    Day 4: Seven Layer Cookies


    Day 4: Seven Layer Cookies

    This is a recipe I borrowed from my Momma.  She makes these every year, and they are so good.  They are also, uber easy.  You just layer everything and bake for a total of 30 minutes.

    Ingredients
    1 stick of butter
    1 cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
    1 - 3 1/2 oz bag of flaked Coconut 
    1 pkg Butterscotch Chips
    1 pkg Chocolate Chips
    1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
    1/2 cup Chopped Nuts

    Directions
    Preheat oven to 350 F. Melt Butter.  Pour into a 10x13" pan.  Press Graham Cracker Crumbs into bottom of the pan.  Layer the Chocolate chips, Butterscotch chips, and Coconut.  Pour Sweetened Condensed Milk evenly over the layers.  Bake for first 15 minutes, sprinkle nuts on top then bake for the remaining 15 minutes.

    Saturday, December 3, 2011

    Christmas Cards for Soldiers


    Kindness Project: Christmas Cards for Soldiers

    An easy and inexpensive way to show some Christmas Kindness this year would be to send some Christmas cards to our U.S. military, veterans and their families, many of whom will be far away from home this holiday season. The Red Cross is collecting and distributing Christmas cards to American service members, veterans and their families in the United States and around the world for their Annual Holiday Mail for Heroes Drive. Sending a “touch of home” to American men and women who serve our country is the perfect way to express your appreciation and support during the holiday season.  There are some guidelines you need to be aware of below.  For instance, do not use cards with glitter because some cards will be given to wounded soliders.

    Card Guidelines:
    Every card received will be screened for hazardous materials by Pitney Bowes and then reviewed by Red Cross volunteers working around the country.  Please observe the following guidelines to ensure a quick reviewing process:
    • All cards being sent in for 2011 Holiday Mail For Heroes program should be postmarked no later than Friday, December 9, 2011.
    • Ensure that all cards are signed.
    • Use generic salutations such as “Dear Service Member.” Cards addressed to specific individuals can not be delivered through this program.
    • Only cards are being accepted. Do not send letters.
    • Do not include email or home addresses on the cards, as the program is not meant to foster pen pal relationships.
    • Do not include inserts of any kind, including photos, as these items will be removed during the reviewing process.
    • We encourage participants to mail as many cards as they are comfortable sending. If you are mailing a large quantity, please bundle the cards and place them in large mailing envelopes or use a flat rate box from the post office. Each card does not need its own envelope, as cards will be removed from all envelopes before distribution.
    • Please refrain from sending holiday cards with glitter. Many of these cards will be delivered to military and veterans medical facilities and the glitter could interfere with a patient's recovery
          Mail Cards to:
             Holiday Mail For Heroes
             P.O. Box 5456
             Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456


             For more information visit: Holiday Mail for Heroes Website

    Day 3: Peanut Butter Cookies


    Day 3: Paula's Peanut Butter Cookies


    Peanut Butter Cookies are a favorite of some of my friends; I turned to the queen of anything with the word "butter" in it for this recipe.


    Ingredients
    1 large egg
    1 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
    1 cup sugar 1 1/3 cup sugar replacement (recommended: Splenda)
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Directions
    Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a large baking sheet or line the baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.  In a mixing bowl, beat together the egg, peanut butter, vanilla, and sugar until a dough forms.  Roll the dough into balls the size of walnuts.  Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet.  With a fork, dipped in sugar or splenda to prevent sticking, press a crisscross design on each cookie.  Bake for 12 minutes, remove from the oven, and sprinkle the cookies with some of the remaining sugar or Splenda.
    Cool slightly before removing from pan.  A thin metal spatula will work best.