Gift Giving – Music and Brownies

Brownies recipe

This was published in the December 2013 issue of Alamance Magazine.  I want to share it with you now, because it’s never a bad time for gift giving.

With love,

J

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Gift Giving

There’s so much that comes to mind with the term, gift giving. No matter what has crossed my mind to write about for you this month, I always go back to thinking about our gifts that we were blessed with and giving to others. Being giving of our personal gift is important to a happy society. Your gift doesn’t have to cost money. That’s the wonderful thing about gifts. You were blessed with your talents, and they were given to you, to pass on and bring joy to others.

 

EggsI remember growing up and singing in church for various occasions. It may have been for a birthday, a wedding, or just with the choir. But, one of my gifts was singing. It was and is something I can give freely to others. It was the priceless birthday gift I could give my grandparents. It was an irreplaceable gift.

There are a few gifts that I think people look over as just a “skill”. Our local firemen and police officers – they have the gift inside of them that allows them to save lives daily. The carpenter that volunteers with Habitat for Humanity – they have a gift and use it to build homes. The funny friend that you have – that’s a gift that allows them to bring a smile to so many others with just a simple joke. The beautiful friend that always remembers you on birthdays and holidays with the perfect card – they freely give their gift of love and remembrance. You know that shoulder you cried on last week? That person was gifted as a natural born comforter, and they never hesitate to use it.

Your gift could be just being a good motivator, an amazing hair stylist, or even a delicious cook. In short, I do believe that our talents were gifts we were given in the beginning of life. Sometimes we don’t know when those gifts will shine in us along our journey, but we have the choice to embrace them and share them with others whenever we can.

Sometimes stepping out of our comfort zone and sharing our gift can be scary, which can hold us back.

In the earlier part of the year, I volunteered at a local high school in their Exceptional Children class. I thought it would be a great way for me to share my gift of cooking with someone else – a way for me to bring joy to others. Little did I know, it would change my life.

It was like any other day when I woke up. Except this time, I was packing my car full of brownie making items. We weren’t Ingredients 2just going to make box brownies though, we were going to do it from scratch! I got loaded up and headed to the school. I didn’t know what to expect. I had never had an experience with a student with disabilities, and I certainly hadn’t been back in a high school since I graduated. Honestly, it was a little nerve-racking in many ways. I didn’t want to say the wrong things, do the wrong things, or hurt anyone’s feelings. After waiting uncomfortably at the front desk for a bit, I finally got into the room and met their teachers. Wow. They were amazing and explained everything to me before we entered the room. Maybe I looked nervous? It was a good possibility. That was until I was introduced to the students – those beautiful young people.

The teacher called their attention and introduced me. Every single one turned around and greeted me. They each told me their names, and we were off to the kitchen! One by one we packed into their kitchen, and one by one we went through the ingredients we were going to use. There were a few that found it fun to crack the eggs. Others decided it was fun to play in the flour and sugar. One in particular wanted to wash the dishes. With hardly any help from myself, we had the brownies mixed up and ready to go in the oven.

Brownies CookedThat’s when it hit me – I had brought too large of a pan! Oh, I was devastated inside! I so wanted this to be perfect for them. After one of the students sprayed the pan, the brownies were poured in the pan and set to bake. My heart sank. I knew they wouldn’t be nice chunky, thick brownies for these wonderful students once the batter was spread out in the pan. We did the dishes, waited a bit, and then the brownies were ready to come out of the oven. I pulled them out to cool for a few minutes before calling the class back into the kitchen. They were so flat. Sigh.

The teacher kept reassuring me that it was okay, because we knew they would taste wonderful. Napkin by napkin, little flat brownie by little flat brownie, they were all passed out to the students. It was about the time the last brownie was going out that I realized what this was all about. It wasn’t about just sharing my gift of cooking with these children; they shared their gift of love, kindness, and appreciation with me. Their smiles, hugs, and words all said the same thing to me – BEST brownies ever!

They didn’t need to be perfect by any standards to actually be perfect. They were made with love by every single one of those students and myself. It was about the time I took to share my gift that was so precious and wonderful to them. That afternoon I learned that a gift we are blessed with, is a gift that we are meant to share with others. So whether it’s a smile that you give freely, or a passion that you use to help others, it’s all about freely giving your gift. Pass it on.

Oh wait! I mentioned brownies! Hands down…the perfect brownies. Enjoy, and pass them along this holiday season as gifts!

 Brownies recipe

Fudge Brownies by KitchenAid

 

  • 1 cup margarine or 1 cup butter, softened and divided
  • 4 (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate squares
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup walnuts or 1 cup pecans, chopped

 

Directions:

 

(If you don’t have a KitchenAid mixer, don’t fret. The higher the number on the speed, just means you need to stir it more. Also, if you’d like to make a brownie that is a little more salty and sweet, use Sea Salt instead of regular salt and double to one teaspoon.)

 

  1. Melt 1/2 cup of margarine/butter and chocolate squares in a small saucepan over low heat; set aside to cool.
  2. Place remaining 1/2 cup margarine/butter, sugar and vanilla in mixer bowl.
  3. Attach bowl and flat beater to mixer.
  4. Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 30 seconds.
  5. Turn to Speed 6 and beat about 2 minutes.
  6. Turn to Speed 4.
  7. Add eggs, one at a time, beating about 15 seconds after each addition.
  8. Stop and scrape bowl.
  9. Add cooled chocolate mixture.
  • Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 30 seconds.
  • Stop and scrape bowl.
  • Add all remaining ingredients (flour, salt, nuts).
  • Turn to Stir Speed and mix until well blended, about 30 seconds.
  • Pour into greased and floured 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
  • Cool in pan on wire rack and cut

Changing the way we cook: Dialysis friendly recipes

20131128_121551What a crazy month it’s been!  Four weeks ago tomorrow, Maw-Maw was first admitted to the hospital for kidney failure and a myriad of other things.  Two weeks before that approximately she had a pretty bad fall, and that started the downhill roll for her kidneys.  Between work, home, and hospital (or rehab center for 4 days) we’re all exhausted and ready for a break.  

Good news is that she came home Friday – hopefully for good now.  All of us are tired of hospitals to be perfectly honest. 

The bad news….

She is now on permanent Dialysis.

We’re a family that eats together a LOT.  I grew up around the dinner table and have wonderful memories of everyone being together with a warm meal.  Chicken Pie, Roasts, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, brownies, cakes, pies, etc.  We always had a delicious meal.  Well, times have changed a bit.  With Maw-Maw’s dietary restrictions, we really have to think outside the box.  Things that were once second nature to throw together for a decent meal, now have to be prepared special ways, or have many normal foods that we cook with excluded.  Needless to say, it’s been a challenge.  But, it’s a challenge we’ve all accepted and are determined to conquer! 

We’ve been looking at this site, http://www.davita.com/recipes/.  It’s been able to provide us lots of recipes and ideas for meals that Maw-Maw can enjoy.  Below are a few that I have found tasty.  If I made any substitutions, I listed them in parenthesis.  I’ve also linked each recipe from the actual site if you want to read other people’s comments and suggestions.

As a whole of any situation we’re handed, we have a choice.  We can lie down and pity ourselves and feel like life is over as we know it, or we can pick ourselves up by our boot straps and make the most of it.  In the end of this hurdle, it’s not really bad news.  If only for the simple reason, that she IS able to do Dialysis and continue living with us. 

One person’s health may impact the entire family with holiday meals and all, but it takes that entire family’s support to help one person’s health.  We do what we have to do, and we do it out of love in this family.  Love of one another, and love of our time spent together.

 

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 All-American Meatloaf

These were actually really tasty when I made them in the Muffin pans.  This was one of our  items we had in the hospital on Thanksgiving.  The review from the patient was that they would be best served fresh.  Unfortunately, hospitals don’t just have microwaves near the rooms.  *smiles*  Unfortunately, we ate these before I could snap a photo.  *wink*

Ingredients

    • nonstick cooking spray or oil to grease pan
    • 1 pound lean ground beef (10% fat)
    • 1 egg (I used Egg Substitute)
    • 20 squares saltine-type crackers, unsalted tops, finely crushed
    • 2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped  (I used minced onion)
    • 2 tablespoons liquid nondairy creamer  (Coffeemate)
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1/3 cup catsup  (no-Salt added)
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon milk (Coffeemate)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Coat a loaf pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray or oil (I used a muffin tin to make mini meat loafs since I was carrying them to the hospital for us to eat there on Thanksgiving.)
  3. In large bowl, combine ground beef, egg, finely crushed crackers, onion, nondairy creamer and black pepper. Mix well.
  4. Form into a loaf and place in loaf pan. Bake for 40 minutes.
  5. To make topping sauce, mix catsup, brown sugar, vinegar and milk in a small bowl.
  6. Remove cooked meatloaf from oven and cover with sauce.
  7. Return pan to oven and bake for 10 additional minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160° F.
  8. Slice into 6 portions before serving.

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Soft Ginger Cookies

THESE ARE AMAZING!!!  I didn’t change a single thing about the below recipe.  Not being a huge molasses fan, I was surprised I loved these so much.  They were good for a few days after, but were honestly best the first and second day.20131128_094120

Ingredients

    • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose white flour
    • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 3/4 cup butter 
    • 1-1/8 cups granulated sugar(divided use)
    • 1/4 cup liquid low cholesterol egg substitute
    • 1/4 cup molasses

Preparation

    1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
    2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves. Set aside.
    3. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Beat in 1 cup sugar.
    4. Add liquid egg substitute and molasses; beat well.
    5. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture.
    6. Shape dough into 1-1/2″ balls, using about 1 heaping tablespoon of dough for each.
    7. Roll balls in the remaining sugar to coat.
    8. Place balls about 2-1/2″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
    9. Bake for 10 minutes or until light brown and still puffed. (Do not over bake.)
    10. Cool cookies on cookie sheet for 2 minutes then transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

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Cranberry  Muffins

I’ll be honest…these were ok.  Just ok.  The flavor was spot on, but instead of using sugar, I used Splenda.  That may have impacted how bad they stuck to the muffin liners.

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Ingredients

    • 1-3/4 cups + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 7 tablespoons sugar 
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 3/4  cup cranapple juice
    • 1/4  cup cooking oil
    • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries coarsely chopped

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease twelve 2-1/2″ muffin cups or line with baking cups; set aside.
  2. To prepare streusel topping, combine 3 tablespoons of the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; set aside.
  3. To prepare muffins, combine remaining flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; set aside.
  4. In another bowl whisk egg, juice and oil together. Pour egg mixture all at once into flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in chopped cranberries.
  5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Sprinkle streusel topping over muffin batter in cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. 
  6. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm. 

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Pancakes

That’s right….I said Pancakes.  These were absolutely perfectly fluffy and tasty!  I ended up with a  VERY happy Maw-Maw this morning for breakfast, and I was quite pleased myself.  Don’t be alarmed at allowing your milk to sour with the vinegar.  It was easy.  *smiles*

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose white flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preparation

  1. Make sour milk: add 1 tablespoon vinegar to 2 cups milk. Let sit for about 5 minutes until soured.
  2. Sift flour; add baking soda, salt and sugar.
  3. Beat eggs with mixer until fluffy. Combine with “sour” milk and oil.
  4. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth.
  5. Cook on a hot griddle or heated frying pan, greased with nonstick cooking spray until bubbly. Turn only once for fluffy, light pancakes.

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Sundays with Friends: My friend Jen and her Peanut Butter Balls…

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022Do you remember my good friend, Jen? She last wrote for us about Wild Turkey Stew, and this time she’s bringing us a very near and dear to her heart recipe for her Mama’s Peanut Butter Balls. I meant to get this to you before Christmas, but we all know how busy the Holidays can become. However, you have to forgive me….I AM bringing you one of the most delightful recipes I have EVER put in my mouth. From my friend that understands the importance of loving her mother and hanging onto handwritten recipes, all the way to your kitchen, please welcome back Jen!

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I love Christmastime and one reason why is because I love making my mom’s peanut butter balls. My 020mother passed away over eight years ago from cancer. We used to make Peanut Butter Balls together every year before Christmas. When my mother became sick she didn’t have the strength to make Peanut Butter Balls with me. I had to make them on my own. She passed away in October 2006, and that Christmas I went to her house. I made the Peanut Butter Balls like I usually did, except that year she wasn’t present to help; however, I felt her spirit there with me.

I try to make my Peanut Butter Balls every year because it was me and Mom’s Christmas tradition. I didn’t make them last year because I was trying to eat healthier and knew if I made them I would about eat all of them. I promised Jennifer that I would make them this year and write for her Sunday’s with Friends. I hope that you can take this recipe, make your own Christmas tradition, and enjoy it like I do.

Oh and by the way I still have the handwritten recipe that my mother wrote.

Mama’s Peanut Butter Balls Recipescan0001

  • 2 cups of Graham Cracker crumbs
  • 1 lb of powdered sugar
  • 2 sticks of butter melted
  • 1 cup of chopped nuts
  • 4 oz of flaked coconut
  • 12 oz jar of crunchy peanut butter
  • 12 oz or more of chocolate candy wafers

Mix first 6 ingredients in order given. Form into balls, which may need to be chilled for a while. Melt chocolate wafers in a double boiler and dip balls into melted chocolate. Place dipped balls onto wax paper until hardened. You can put them in the fridge or keep them on the counter. But, let them sit out on the counter for a bit before eating if you’re storing them in the fridge.

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CONTEST: Who loves BBQ Sauce???

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I do! I do! I do! Who loves supporting local companies and businesses??? I do!

So with that said, I am pleased to bring you my first ever contest. Woohoo!!!  On top of that, what better thing to kick off the first contest with than some of the most amazing BBQ Sauce ever!

I’m so in love with Tay’s BBQ Sauce that I would like to give you two bottles of it. One is their “Sweet and Smoky”, and the other is their “All Purpose”. I think they both should be labeled all purpose because I use them each on everything! Below are a couple of links for you to check out two posts I’ve already written about this culinary delight called Tay’s Southern BBQ Sauce.

BBQ Sauce Makes Life Sexier

Quick and Easy Dinner Alert!

Gosh I love this stuff!

A little tidbit from Tay’s website…“Tay’s Sauce, LLC was created by Doug Hankins and his daughter, Taylor, from Cameron, NC. One year, they made BBQ sauce as Christmas gifts for their family and friends. Everyone loved the sauce, and it became a common request for them to make more. They were encouraged to bottle and sell their sauce, so in the spring of 2009, the “All Purpose Southern BBQ Sauce” was made available for purchase. After the all-purpose sauce took off, people started requesting a sweeter and smokier flavor. After months of trying to find just the right flavor combination, Doug introduced the “Sweet ‘N Smokey” flavor in the spring of 2011. We know that you will love this sauce just as much as their friends and family do. Doug and Taylor discussed that a percentage of all proceeds will go to their home church.”

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How to Enter:

The only thing you have to do to enter the contest is leave a comment below that tells me why you love BBQ Sauce.

***For extra entries***(once you complete each one, comment below and let me know you did it)

Good luck everyone, and I am so incredibly excited to share Tay’s with you!

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Contest ends Sunday, September 30, 2012, at 11:59pm ET. 

Tay’s Sauce, LLC is part of the fast growing “Goodness Grows in NC”, a department of the North Carolina Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Rambling on my way to my 30s and a Cooking Class on 9/5/12!!! Yay!

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First, I must apologize for all of the “reflection” posts lately, and lack of recipes. I’ll be back on the recipes shortly, I promise. I’m just in a very pivotal moment it seems in life. By no means is it a bad thing, but it is definitely causing me to think a lot about the future. A LOT.

For instance…let’s go through my current To-Do List…or should I call it my “What I’m Involved in while trying to maintain my sanity” list? *wink*

  • I have my regular day job – 10 hours a day/4 days a week.
  • I go to the gym each of those above 4 days I work, at 6am in the morning.
  • I write the blog for Iron Hen Café in Greensboro, NC.
  • I work part-time for Darryl’s in Greensboro, NC, managing a portion of their Guest Relations.
  • I have been submitting articles to various magazines, and one of which should be published in the month of September in our local Alamance County Magazine.
  • I also (you’re my witness) maintain my own baby the best I can, TheOnyxPlate.com.

Last but certainly far from the least…

  • I have been asked by Savory Spice Shop in Greensboro, NC, to do a cooking class for them. YAY!

Not only is this a great month of September coming up for me with the magazine publishing me, and the class happening…but, I’ll be turning 30 on September 4. 30! I’m excited about it. I’m not where I expected to be in life, honestly. By now, I expected to have a child…maybe two if the birthing process didn’t gross me out too much. Seems God had other plans though, as we’ve been trying for around four years now. I’m finally at a point where I’m ok with this for the time being. He’s brought so much more our way, and I have to trust that he knows what he’s doing. I also expected to not be in marriage counseling (however, I do believe it’s good for anyone to do…this is a good thing that we’re in counseling, folks). Sometimes you have to reach out and admit that you need a little help reconnecting. *smiles* I also expected to be stuck in a dead-end job (sorry, but I did)…and I’m truly not. Now, I’ll admit it, I want to be out of my current job by the end of the year. That may or may not happen. It’s not because I dislike the company I am working for…it’s because my passions in life are leading me elsewhere. I have been given so many opportunities to pursue in life, that I would be a fool to give up on this and stay stagnant in my ever-evolving life. There’s food to taste…people to meet…lives to inspire! *smiles*

So as I get ready to turn 30 in a little over a week, I will be preparing for my trip to Savannah, GA, with my Mom. She and I are going on a Mother/Daughter trip for a week to see the beauty, sights, and food of Savannah for my birthday. I can’t wait! What more could you ask for than going on a road trip with your best friend?

But, before the trip…I’ll be kicking off the first day of my 30s by exploring yet another avenue of my passion of inspiring people with food by doing the cooking class on September 5. I am so dang excited, y’all!

If you’re near the Greensboro, NC, area, I’d love to see you there! It’s going to be held at the Savory Spice Shop location in Friendly Center. The class is from 7pm-8:30pm, and the cost is $10/person. You must pre-register by calling them though, as there is a space limit for the shop. However, if more than a certain amount are interested, I get to do a second class! Woohoo!

With all of this being said, and thank you for listening, I’m going to trek on to my 30s. My 20s were absolutely amazing (with a little heartbreak and sorrow mixed in, as life does continue to happen), and I learned a lot about myself and life in general. I can only imagine where I’m headed in my 30s….but, you know what?….I’m ready!

A few shots of the advertising for the cooking class. I need to get my hands on some of these for mementos. *huge smiles*  There’s also some shots of the very rough draft prep work below while I was formulating some of the recipes yesterday.  I love taste testing!

It’s time we had a talk…about Sticky Toffee Pudding and an English Pub named Marshall

STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING
di·et/ˈdī-it/

Verb:

Restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight: “it is difficult to diet in a house full of cupcakes”.

Now that you know the definition of using “diet” as a verb…let’s talk, because there are

My own personal treasure box of bliss…

some things that you just don’t restrict yourself on.

The example sentence that Google brings up is “It is difficult to diet in a house full of cupcakes.” Ya think? NO kidding? Seriously? Duh. Hell, it’s difficult just dieting being surrounded by some of these wonderful restaurants we have in our surrounding communities, let alone being in a house full of cupcakes. Wait…YOU have a house full of cupcakes??? You can email me your address at TheOnyxPlate@gmail.com. Depending on your distance from North Carolina, I can possibly make it there within a week. *wink*

My personal sentence I would like to bring to your attention involving the word “diet” being used in it’s verb form…”It’s difficult to diet in a world where Sticky Toffee Pudding exists.” Restrict oneself, what???

The housemade Ginger Ale that will be at The Marshall Free House…currently served at Darryl’s in Greensboro, NC.

Yes ma’am and sir, I said it. I have found my most favorite dessert ever. It might even top a select few of our family’s tried and true Southern desserts. It’s just plum delightful!

If you have been following my Facebook page, you will know my full, uncensored opinion of it. It is as follows…”Like sex: Smooth on the tongue, sweet to the palate, sticky on the lips.” It is every bit of those words, and more. *smiles*

Lucky for me (unlucky for the diet), we have an English Pub opening up in the Summer of 2012 locally. It boasts authentic UK food, beer and spirits, and specializing in three important things: Food, Drink and Conversation. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a tasting for a small selection of their offerings recently, and the Sticky Toffee Pudding was served. Along with it, there were Scotch Eggs, Shepherd’s Pie, Fish and Chips, and a thirst-quenching selection of UK beers.

Amongst all of the amazing food their Culinary Wizard and Passionate Owner have imagined, there will be a vast array of beer and spirits that will leave you in awe. Juices fresh-squeezed, mixes handmade, and sodas made in-house. The vision of The Marshall Free House is unlike any other you have encountered here locally…perhaps anywhere. It will leave you with a happy belly, quenched thirst, and a joyful heart and mind from just being there.

It takes passion (and orgasmic Sticky Toffee Pudding) to make a business last, folks……….The Marshall Free House is going to last a very long time. Come on Summer 2012!!!

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Sundays with Friends: Sparkling Smoothies with the sparkling young ladies of GurlBye

Smoothies

A couple Sundays ago I posted about a good friend of mine and her group, GurlBye. They sent me two recipes, and here is the second installment. If you didn’t have a chance to look at the Rhythm Roll post (which looked incredibly delicious, and I’m making tonight *smile*), you should. You can find the previous post by clicking here.

If you did miss it…here is what GurlBye is all about…

We are women on a mission to aid in the mental transformation of young girls from their days of Barbie dolls and dress up, to a whole new world of getting to know self. Our focus is on middle school aged girls, because for many of them this is the first time in their lives when they will actually take notice of changes in their environment. Middle school is a time when questions begin to require better answers than “Because I said so” and “That is just the way it is.” Our girls are growing up fast. Many of them are much more intelligent than what is shown in the Media. They are taking charge in front of and behind the scenes and realizing the importance of divine wisdom, love, trust, compassion, and reaching far beyond the limits the world sets for them. GurlBye encourages young women to put aside judgmental ways that could cause negativity and begin to embrace each human as an individual.

The young ladies of GurlBye got together and cooked for The Onyx Plate. Our meal consisted of Rhythm Rolls, Roasted Red Potatoes, and Fresh Spring Salad. We also sipped Sparkling Smoothies while we talked and prepared the food. The girls were delighted to cook as this was the first time preparing a meal for most of them.

*SPARKLING SMOOTHIES*

Ingredients:

  • Ice
  • Fresh Strawberries
  • 1 bag of frozen fruit (mango, peach, pineapple)
  • 1 bottle of Ginger Ale
  • Plain Yogurt

Mix ice, 1 cup of yogurt, 2 cups of Ginger Ale, and 2 cups of frozen mixed fruit in blender. Serve chilled and garnish cups with strawberries.

Fit for a Mardi Gras King….Cake.

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I have a super good friend of mine that is in love with everything Mardi Gras, and I know she looks forward to it every year. Well, this year, I decided to try my hand at a King Cake. I also knew that I would need to get her honest opinion as well since she would be the closest thing to an expert that I had here locally. *smiles*

Let’s begin with – What is a King Cake?

I think it will be easier if I let KingCake.com explain what a King Cake is to you…

“The King Cake is believed to have originated in France around the 12th century. These early Europeans celebrated the coming of the three wise men bearing gifts twelve days after Christmas calling it the Feast of the epiphany, Twelfth Night, or King’s Day.

The main part of the celebration was the baking of a King’s Cake to honor the three Kings. The cakes were made circular to portray the circular route used by the kings to get to the Christ Child, which was taken to confuse King Herod who was trying to follow the wise men so he could kill the Christ Child. In these early King Cakes a bean, pea, or coin was hidden inside the cake. The person who got the hidden piece was declared King for the day or was said to have good luck in the coming year.

In Louisiana, Twelfth Night also signifies the beginning of the carnival season which ends with Mardi Gras Day. The bean, pea and the coin have been replaced by a small plastic baby to symbolize the Christ Child. The person who gets the baby is expected to carry on the carnival festivities by hosting the next King Cake party.”

I found the recipe I used at AllRecipes.com and instead of making the dough by hand, I allowed my bread machine to do the heavy work for me on the dough cycle. I still haven’t tried that dough thing where you let it rise and do things by hand….I’ll admit it, I’m kinda chickening out on that one while I have my bread machine. *huge smiles* One day though, I promise.

It was quite easy to roll the dough out, and I had help from the hub with getting the ingredients together and the filling made. I did learn, however, before I put icing on, I need to brush the excess flour off the dough. Otherwise, my icing doesn’t stick. Next time I will know, and you will see the excess flour in the picture where the bright colored icing didn’t stick. *hehe, oops*

Well, my friend had a piece the next day at work, and I braced myself for her honest opinion. She said that the dough was spot on. *go me!* She then said the filling was tasty (maybe not the term, but she liked it *smiles*). Then the truth came out….the dough was denser than the King Cakes she was accustomed to. It ended up more like a bread texture, than a coffee cake/pull-apart kind of bread. Now, like I said, I’m not a bread maker, nor will I ever claim to be. BUT, I can’t help but wonder if the bread machine had anything to do with this. Was it over-mixed? Did I mess with it too much when rolling it out? Maybe it was just cooked too long? Hmmm….One will never know.

Final verdict…I did enjoy this cake/pastry. The hub decorated one, and I decorated the other.  Will I make it again? Maaaaaaybeeeeeeee next year for Mardi Gras. *wink*

***The recipe makes TWO cakes, and if you get 16 slices out of each cake, it’s 6 WW points plus per slice.***

Mardi Gras King Cake

PASTRY:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

FILLING:

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • FROSTING:
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
Directions
  1. Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  5. To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
  6. Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10×16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners’ sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.

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Sundays with Friends: Dreaming with Dannie and his Godiva Dream Cheesecake

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Wow! It’s been a little bit of time since we’ve had a Sundays with Friends to post (so send me more to theonyxplate@gmail.com *wink*)…and there’s no better way to bring it back than with a Triple-layer GODIVA Dream Cheesecake. Yes….I said GODIVA! This post comes to us from Dannie, a new friend and long-time fan of The Onyx Plate. He seems to be as sweet as this cheesecake probably is. His main comment is that he went by the directions exactly, and it all turned out perfect. See, some recipes don’t need altering when they’re already perfect. *smiles*

Thank you, Dannie, for sending this one in, along with the pictures! I can’t wait to try it! Welcome to The Onyx Plate family!

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The first time that I met Chad, I made a white chocolate cheesecake, and the other day he said that I haven’t made him one since. Well both of us love Godiva, and I have been looking for something new to cook and found this recipe. The only thing that I will say about it, if you don’t have the callets, just go to the store and buy the bars and use them. They work just as great and make it really good!

Triple-layer GODIVA Dream Cheesecake

Yield: 14 servings

Difficulty: Intermediate

Preparation: 2 hours plus chilling overnight

Special Equipment: 9″ springform pan

  • 2 cups crushed chocolate graham crackers (about 12 crackers)
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened (2-8 ounce packages)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
  • 3 ounces GODIVA Dark Chocolate Callets (these appear to be their version of large chocolate morsels)
  • 1 1/3 cups sour cream, divided
  • 1/3 firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 finely chopped pecans 5 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

GODIVA Dark Chocolate Dream Glaze:

  • 6 ounces GODIVA Dark Chocolate Callets
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. In a bowl, combine the crushed graham crackers, 1/4 cup white sugar, and butter. After thoroughly mixing, place into 9” springform pan and press firmly into bottom and up the sides. In one bowl, combine 8 ounces cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar together; blend well with mixer.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together 1 egg, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, melted GODIVA Dark Chocolate Callets, and 1/3 cup sour cream. Mix the two bowls together and blend well. Spoon evenly over chocolate graham cracker crust.
  4. Combine the last 8-ounce package of cream cheese in a bowl with the brown sugar and flour; beat until the mixture is fluffy. In a separate bowl blend together 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and finely chopped pecans. Mix the two bowls together and blend well. Spoon over the chocolate layer of cheese cake in the springform pan.
  5. To create the final layer, combine 5 ounces of cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar; beat until well mixed. Add the remaining egg to the mixture and beat again. Stir in 1 cup of sour cream, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and the almond extract. When all ingredients are mixed thoroughly, add to the pecan layer of cheesecake. Bake in the preheated over for 1 hour. Let cool for 1 hour on wire rack.
  6. To make the GODIVA Dark Chocolate Dream Glaze, combine the GODIVA Dark Chocolate Callets and butter in a double boiler. Bring the water to a boil, and reduce the heat to medium. Begin to stir the GODIVA Dark Chocolate Callets and the butter until smooth, in order to prevent burning. Remove from the heat. In a separate large bowl, add the remaining ingredients. Once thoroughly mixed, add the melted chocolate mixture, and stir until smooth. After the cake is completely chilled (4-6 hours), spread the warm chocolate glaze over the cheesecake.

Find the above recipe at it’s original location by clicking here to be redirected to the Godiva Chocolate website. *drool*