01 July 2016

Chocolate Chocolate Caramel Mousse Cream Pie

My parents were in town for a few days, and my dad's birthday happened while they were here. Because my mom's kitchen isn't fully equipped with ingredients, and because his traditional birthday dessert (chocolate death cake - maybe a post for another time) was a bit much for the amount of family that was here in terms of quantity, Mom asked me to make a little something and I jumped at the opportunity. Food is not officially a love language in terms of the "Five Love Languages" book, but it really is to me. I appreciate really good food, but even more I love to make really good food for people I love. Which is why I'm not terribly interested in selling what I make as one relative often suggests that I do (although a cupcake bakery could be super fun). Making it a money thing or a job would just ruin the experience for me, you know?

Anyway, I have all kinds of decadent things pinned on pinterest, and when I looked at what I had available for no-bake pies (it's hot and I'm very pregnant, k?) lots of things appealed to me but didn't seem quite right for my dad. I'm not sure he shares my fetish for chocolate/peanut butter things (my pinterest food boards are littered with recipes of that variety). He's very much a chocolate man, but a plain chocolate cream pie, even with an oreo crust didn't seem like quite enough for a birthday to me. So I combined a couple of ideas and decided it was probably post-worthy. :) I used the chocolate pudding from this recipe and the chocolate caramel mousse and crust (slightly modified) from this recipe. Also opted to top with the whipped cream and chocolate shavings from the chocolate cream pie recipe. The result was wonderful! And so I'm sharing with you.

It was every bit as good as it looks (probably better because I'm not a very skilled food photographer at this time). Very decadent, but the whipped cream lightened it up just enough to make it possible to consume a larger piece without feeling ill. Unless you have a much lower tolerance for rich foods than I do. Then proceed with a generous slice at your own risk. hahaha

Chocolate Chocolate Caramel Mousse Cream Pie


Oreo crust:
  • 24 oreo cookies
  • 3 T. melted butter
Chocolate pudding base:
  • 2/3 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 3 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 2 1/4 cup Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
Chocolate caramel mousse:
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel sauce, store-bought or homemade 

Make the crust:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch pie dish with cooking spray.
Place the Oreo cookies in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add in the melted butter and pulse until moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pie dish. Bake for 10 minutes, or until fragrant and set. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

 Make the pudding:

Combine sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt in a medium pan.
While stirring constantly, slowly add in milk and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla.
Pour into pie crust, cover with plastic wrap directly on the pudding and chill until firm. (2-3 hrs)*

Make the mousse:

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate on high in 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval, until melted and smooth. Let cool.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment to beat the cream until soft peaks form. On medium speed, gradually add the caramel and continue whipping until medium-stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the cooled melted chocolate until combined. Pour into cookie crust and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.* Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings (optional).

*I found a hurry-up method for chilling these kinds of recipes in the freezer. The rule of thumb I found was specifically referring to cookie dough, but I took a risk and tried it with my layers and it worked great! Just be sure to use a timer so you won't overdo it. The rule of thumb is to chill in the freezer for a quarter of the amount of time you would in the refrigerator. For the pudding layer that was between 30-40 minutes, and for the mousse layer it was about one and a half hours. As I said, it worked great for me!

19 December 2014

"Thou art not yet as Job..."

That is what the Lord had to say to Joseph Smith when he was unjustly and unlawfully incarcerated in Liberty Jail. I'm going to assume that you know a bit about what Job went through. Unless you're a "Mormon" you may be less familiar with what Joseph Smith was going through at the time the Lord said this to him (among other things) in a revelation. Not only was Joseph Smith in terrible conditions in Liberty Jail - completely inhumane by today's standards - but members of the church were being driven from their homes and even massacred by other citizens of the state intent on driving the saints out. This included many of Joseph's own family. So not only was Joseph in a terrible state himself, but he also had to endure not being in a position to help people that he loved through a most terrible and dark time in the history of the church. And the Lord said, "Thou art not yet as Job."

Out of context that may seem a little insensitive. But the Lord also said, "My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes." Eternal perspective is everything when hard times come in life. This is what I have been reflecting on quite a bit in the last 36 hours or so.

Recently, I had announced that I was finally expecting a child again to friends and family. Not everyone knew how long I had been waiting for that. The short version: I had a miscarriage last June, and had been trying to conceive the minute it was considered safe for me to do so; by March I began to think that something was wrong, and in July of this year we found out what it was. PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). I received treatment for the condition and it was effective, for which I was very thankful.

And then yesterday, I went for my regularly scheduled appointment with my OB. I was 17 weeks along. She proceeded to check on baby's heartbeat. Found nothing. So she checked with a different machine. Nothing, and on this device I could see that there was also no movement. So I was sent over to the hospital next door for an ultrasound. It was confirmed that there was no heartbeat. And the baby measured around 15 weeks, 3 days; this pregnancy was not going to go full term. I was heartbroken. I cried, but I didn't allow myself to cry hard until I got home to my husband. And I continued crying off and on for the rest of today.

I allowed myself to be sad, but I also tried to remind myself of the eternal perspective. I thought about the fact that I already have three beautiful children, all of which I had after healthy and relatively easy pregnancies. I have family and friends who love me and whom I love. I have a husband that I love and adore who is supportive and is a very involved father. Not that there could have been any doubt, but I had to reflect that neither was I as Job. This isn't what I wanted, but I know that my Heavenly Father has a plan for me and for my little family.

There's a hymn that is part of the LDS hymnal that I love, and it also came to mind yesterday. It's called "Lean On My Ample Arm" and is actually not sung often in our church. I suspect that's partially because the tune goes rather high. But the lyrics are wonderful. As all our hymns are, it's based on scripture and it's written as if the Savior is speaking. The second verse says:
Lift up thy tearful eyes,
Sad heart, to me;
I am the sacrifice
Offered for thee.
In me thy pain shall cease,
In me is thy release,
In me thou shalt have peace
In me thou shalt have peace
 This past Sunday a member of my congregation spoke a little about how the Atonement of Jesus Christ not only cleanses us from sin, but also heals us from all wounds we receive while on this earth because He suffered those things vicariously for us as well so that He might succor us in all times of sorrow and grief. I believe that with all of my heart. In fact, I know that's a part of the atonement as I have certainly felt its healing power in my life multiple times. This loss of pregnancy will be no exception. So don't worry about me because ultimately I will be fine. My family and I are in the Lord's hands, and I trust Him with all of my heart.

Note: Just FYI, to resolve this pregnancy (actually a missed miscarriage) I will be undergoing an operation called a D&E during the first half of next week. We've made necessary arrangements for childcare, etc., but prayers are always appreciated if you feel so inclined. :)

16 October 2014

Because you're awesome, and need to remind yourself of it

Our home has recently been in a state of disarray. It usually is a little bit (I have a three year-old, and two other kids besides), but it's been extra bad for the past week because we've been rearranging rooms and furniture. Today I made some good progress in restoring order, and my husband commented, "You did a good job today." My response? "I know!" with a big smile. Followed by a sheepish chuckle and, "I mean, thanks."

This isn't the first time I've responded this way when I've been commended for something. Sometimes I feel pretty silly about that response. But this evening I was reflecting on it. I'm pretty sure I got this tendency from my mom, and she is pretty great. Why shouldn't I give myself a pat on the back for a job well done? I've certainly spent enough time of my life practically loathing myself for all the things I'm not doing right (terrible dark stages of my life that I almost never return to now). It's okay to give myself a break and acknowledge things I do get done, the things I am doing right.

And that is what I want you to reflect on, my friends. I have enough personal experience with this, and have talked with enough female friends to know that there are so many of us just beating ourselves to death for what we're not doing the way we think we should, the way we think others expect us to do it. Ugh! No wonder we have a tendency to feel unfulfilled, under-appreciated, depressed, and empty! If you want to feel awesome, then start noticing and acknowledging the times you just rock it!

Be your own cheerleader. You're not being conceited when you acknowledge your own awesomeness. Many parents go to great lengths to acknowledge all of the great things their kids do, and fail to acknowledge their own greatness. My own mom modeled great positive thinking about herself in every aspect. You can't have any idea how much your own self-talk influences your children. As long as you keep it clear that you're celebrating your own personal growth, and it's not about comparing yourself to other people, it's not conceited and it's such a great thing for your kids to learn! If you are your own cheerleader, then those times that your efforts go unacknowledged by other people will matter less. You just worry about pleasing Heavenly Father and yourself, and loving and serving others. You'll pretty much rock it every day to some extent or another.

I know you've been rocking it a whole lot already, but now you just need to give yourself some recognition. Every day. You deserve it. And besides, positivity yields even more positive results. Negative thoughts about ourselves are not from the Lord. So send Satan and his serious load of negativity packing. The Lord gives us weaknesses that we may be humble, not that we may be hateful toward ourselves. So love yourself, and remember that those weaknesses are future strengths.

Note: Men may very well struggle with this, too, but as women are the ones that I talk to the most and feel the most confident in them relating with the topic I addressed them. However, if you're a man and totally know what I'm talking about, then this is for you, too!

19 February 2014

Shoofly Pie . . .

I love jazz music. Kind of a lot. The lyrics of one of my favorite vocal jazz pieces begins with, "Shoofly pie and apple pandowdy." I am neither very good at or interested in clearly identifying lyrics in songs. I'm more interested in the tune and the beat. So for years I have heard this song and just kind of assumed that 'shoofly pie' and 'apple pandowdy' were nonsense words (they sounded Dr. Seuss-ish to me). Right up until a couple of months ago I was under this false assumption. And then shoofly pie showed up in a children's book that was being read to my youngest child in a music class. My mind was blown.

I decided that day that I must search for a recipe for apple pandowdy, and that I would soon be making and blogging about shoofly pie (the recipe for that was provided in the class). I subsequently found an apple pandowdy recipe (even Martha Stewart has deigned to create a version) and 'pinned' it. And now I have made shoofly pie - pictures to prove it, and I'll share the recipe with you.

First, you will need a pie crust - you can buy one ready made, or make it from scratch. I chose to make mine from scratch. Let me assure you that although pastry crusts have a rep for being tricky to make, it's much less true if you are using a food processor. But rather than give you specific directions here, I'll refer you to this tutorial and give you the recipe I used:

Buttery Pie Crust
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. butter, chilled and grated
1/4 c. ice water

This quantity of this recipe will only be good for a pie without a top crust. Shoofly pie does not have a top crust - at least the recipe I have doesn't. It has a crumb topping!

 Just had my children try it this evening. While it wouldn't be completely honest to say they hated it, 'like' would also be too strong of a word. :) I liked it, but I didn't love it. It's worth trying I'd say. And now, I have another mini goal I can check off. Win!

I suggest serving this with a generous helping of whipping cream. Molasses is intensely sweet, and the whipped cream makes it less intense. Also, I first put my pie crust in a deep-dish pie pan, then switched it to a shallower pan because I didn't think the filling would fill it up. It turns out that the molasses mixture expands quite a bit while baking, so a deep-dish pan would probably work even though the 'filling' is originally only a scant two cups. I started getting nervous that it would make a mess in my oven, but it had only overflowed a little bit before I checked on it again, so I didn't have to put out an oven fire today (and yes, I have before - at least twice). The evidence of the overflow was trimmed away so the edge of the pastry crust could still be seen. In case you're wondering.

Shoofly Pie

9-in pie shell
1 c. molasses
¾ c. hot water
¾ t. baking soda
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ c. all-purpose flour
1 c. packed brown sugar
¼ c. shortening

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine molasses, hot water, and baking soda. Stir well. Whisk in beaten egg. Pour mixture into pie shell.
Crumb topping: In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Mix well. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over molasses layer. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Lower temperature to 350 and bake for 30 more minutes. Allow to cool completely.

I love a good culinary adventure. Especially when it ends up being edible. :) Actually, only when it ends up being edible do I love a culinary adventure. If it doesn't, then I'm terribly put out. Just ask my husband. hahaha Anyway, you might consider giving this a try for Pi Day! Unless you don't like molasses. Then you may not want to try it ever.

05 February 2014

What? I have a blog?

Okay, so it hasn't been that long since I posted, but for someone who was dreaming of being a Mormon blogger with regular postings it kinda has. I'm just going to share some candid thoughts about that.
  • Remember that goal I made to spend less time on the computer? Well, I've been mostly sticking to it. Partly why I haven't been posting.
  • New year meant I was itching to try some new things. Informal resolutions if you will. I have a new cleaning schedule I've been trying out, and I decided I wanted to learn to play the guitar. Also, I've wanted to do more reading of books. Less computer time means more time for other stuff that's more worthwhile to me.
  • I have three kids. Two of them are in school, so a lot of my day isn't that hectic. But between reasons one and two, my day gets filled with other worthwhile things. And after things one and two get home from school, my day is shot. SO much to do after they get home.
What I'm saying is, I'm thinking that this is probably not the season to pursue my desire to be a Mormon blogger. Still, I will try to post more often. But there will not be much regularity, and definitely no schedule.

Also, I haven't felt like saying much. Recently I've been getting bogged down with discouragement. Brief periods of borderline bitterness really. Which is ridiculous because I know the Lord has a plan for me, and there are other people with much (SO much) harder lives than mine. But sometimes I see new babies and think about how I would have a very young baby right now if I hadn't miscarried. It would probably hurt less, maybe even not at all if I were pregnant again right now, but I'm not. And then I think how wrong it is that my father-in-law won't be here for the upcoming baptism and confirmation of my oldest child. I miss having him around. Things are just off, you know? Not at all according to my plan. But as I said, it could definitely be worse. And previously in my life when things didn't go according to my plan, the Lord's plan unfolded so beautifully and was so much better than mine. I guess that means I can possibly expect some awesomeness to go on in my future. Here's hoping. :)

09 December 2013

Monday Musings: Every Good Gift . . .

Yesterday I overheard a brief exchange talking about the proceedings of the Christmas family gift exchange. These lovely ladies talked about letting their kids open gifts all at the same time, or having the children take turns. Most of them it seemed had their children take turns. One explained her choice, "Well, otherwise everyone doesn't get to see what they got!" That made me think.

I too, have my children take turns. But why? I think it's for many reasons; I want the gift opening to last longer so it can be enjoyed longer; I want to focus on one child at a time to see/gauge their reaction to the gifts. One other reason that occurred to me as I thought about it was I want my children to rejoice in their siblings' gifts, too. They're never given the exact same thing, and it's fun to watch and listen to them enjoy each others' gifts.

This ends up being a teaching moment, without me having to say anything. They can be happy for their siblings in the gifts they received, and they can do the same when seeing others outside of their family receive gifts - both in terms of actual tangible gifts, and in intangible blessings. We all have friends/acquaintances receive gifts/blessings that we don't. And it's a blessing to be able to be thankful for those gifts for their sakes, even when it's something we ourselves don't have. Covetousness and envy are horrible ugly feelings, and we are commanded not to indulge in such feelings.

We're all blessed with gifts of many different kinds, and always the giver is the same.
"Every perfect gift is from God." James 1:17
"Every good gift comes from Christ."Moro. 10:8–18
The Lord gives us the gifts that will bless us the most, or that we will be the most able to bless others' lives with. The gift that he's given to every one of us, and the only one that we all really need is the gift of His son. 
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16
I'm so thankful for the birth and life of our Savior Jesus Christ. His example and His giving the ultimate gift of the Atonement makes the hard times in life bearable, and the sweet times so much sweeter. And through His gift, we are empowered to become better every day, and ultimately have the opportunity to be with Him again. The best gift ever has been given to every one of us. And I am thankful to receive it, and to share it with all of my brothers and sisters.

25 November 2013

Monday Musings: The Real Culprit?

I read an article recently about why school reform efforts in the United States have mostly failed. The reason cited there was that the root of educational success was related to economic status; those from impoverished homes would be less successful, and the rates of poverty continue to climb. A vicious cycle would continue and spread. In terms of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, those conclusions certainly stand to reason. If basic needs are not being met (such as food, water, security), then the interest in meeting the needs of esteem and self-actualization are low. BUT . . . I think there may be a bit of a flaw in Maslow's theory. I believe that children whose basic needs may not be met, but whose needs for love and belonging are, then perhaps that's enough for them to go on in order to have a desire to learn, create, and excel. If this were not true, how else could people ever break the chains of poverty?

My point is, I believe that children coming from poor, but loving homes and families will still be very capable of being successful in terms of their education. The real culprit for educational failure is the breakdown of the family. Stable, loving families are increasingly hard to come by. Our society encourages, "Do what's right for you." Many people are looking for their own self-fulfillment, and increasingly they're choosing to look for it outside of raising families. I'm not at all saying that parents shouldn't continue to seek growth as individuals. I am saying that there has to be a balance of people being parents to their children (versus friends/roommates), being a good spouse, and seeking personal growth. If anything, go heavy with your focus on being a spouse and a parent because there is nothing in life that will challenge an individual the way building a family based on gospel principles will. Absolutely nothing. There are growth pains involved, but it's growth! And I'm thankful that I get to participate in the Lord's plan this way.