Monday, December 28, 2015

Chocolate cake roll Christmas

I was pretty excited for Christmas Eve for one specific reason --- I had tried some new recipes and I was really excited to see if they had worked.

Thankfully, the cinnamon rolls that morning were great. Now, I had one left to try. I was terrified to see if my cake roll really had worked out.

I used a serrated knife to cut it just like I had seen done in all those videos I watched to see how to make it beautiful, and the first piece flipped away. The filling and the chocolate cake made that perfect spiral, just like I wanted.


Plus, I received the BEST compliment a cook can ever get. I know she's biased, but she's also not known to give compliments she doesn't mean, so when my mom said, "This is the best dessert I've ever had," I believed her. And it made my day.

So, here is the Kraft recipe I used. It is tucked away in my recipe book for all future Christmases. I think I started a new tradition.

Chocolate Cake Roll
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 Tbsp. butter
4 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2/3 cup water
4 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 cups whipped topping

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Line 15x10x1-inch pan with parchment paper.

Microwave 3 ounces of chocolate and butter until melted. Add sugar and mix well. Beat in eggs. Add 1/4 cup flour and baking soda and beat until just blended. Add remaining flour alternately with water, beating well after each addition. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake 15 min. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of powdered sugar (which was supposed to help it not stick to the towel you roll it in, but it still stuck for me). Flip onto a towel and roll up; let rest for 10 minutes, until just warm.

Make filling by beating together cream cheese, rest of the powdered sugar and 1.5 cups of whipped topping.

Unroll the cake and fill with cream cheese filling. Roll up.

Melt together the rest of the whipped topping and chocolate. Frost top of cake roll with this mixture. Can add walnuts to the top as well.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Worth the memories

Tis the season for spending money.

Although we finished our Christmas shopping quite a while ago, I still feel like we've done nothing but drain our savings lately as we plan a few trips. It's never easy for me to let go of our hard-earned cash, so I've had to look at it a little bit differently.

I decided that as we spend money on trip planning that I shouldn't look at it as spending money on tickets or hotel rooms, instead I am looking at it as spending money on memories.

The past few years we have gone to Sandals for vacation, and when I look back, I don't think about the payments we submitted for the trips. Instead I remember the time spent together reading on the beach, trying exotic cuisine at dinner, dancing in the cabaret and sailing. I remember laughing at the peacocks walking by, soaking in the sun in the pool and watching the sun set from our balcony.

I know that the short trip we took this weekend to see the lead singer of one of our favorite bands play a solo show wasn't about spending even more money before Christmas. Instead, we will remember that it was the first time I saw live the first song I ever listened to by the group. I will remember laughing with the woman seated next to me as she oggled over the singer. I will remember the odd bathrooms that had a shared hand-washing station between the men's and women's rooms.

Life is about creating memories. Yes, we could save all our money for "someday," and we could stay home. But instead we save for today and enjoy the blessings that God has given us and use them to create memories and enjoy this life. We thank God that we do have the ability to plan trips and to enjoy this points in our marriage. These times will be special ones that we will always look back on, and that's worth the money to me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Storing up treasured memories

I logged on today and noticed it's been a couple of weeks since I last blogged. I guess life has been busy; I don't really have an excuse for it.

At this time of year, we think more about Mary, the mother of Jesus, than any other. And one of my favorite verses talks about Mary storing memories and precious thoughts up in her heart. I've talked about in past years that I like to do that too. When a special moment, even a small one, happens, I try to store it in my heart so I won't forget when times are not quite so good.

Here are a few moments that I stored up in my heart this week:

-My great big bulldog crawled onto my lap and tried to fit as much of her body as possible there, and she promptly fell asleep. She could be anywhere but she just wanted to be cuddled up next to me.

-Nate ended up taking his dinner to the office and he called, saying he was "showing off" my jambalaya. That always makes me feel good when my cooking is appreciated.

-A volunteer at work left me some goodies, and who it was made me so happy. This person unexpectedly has become quite special to me.

-A dance student that I have taught for a few years stepped up onto pointe in her brand new shoes. She hadn't necessarily been at the top of the class, but at that moment I saw such talent and potential that it made me smile.

- As our little family laid on the couch, Nate had my hand and moved his thumb against my wrist. It's a precious little thing that filled my heart up.

What are some moments you have treasured lately?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

I got the chicken cordon bleu

On our way home from Thanksgiving with family, Nate drove, like always. About halfway we pulled into an Arby's to grab some dinner.

"Chicken bacon swiss, no sauce," I said, and he repeated it into the speaker.

He ordered the chicken cordon bleu, and the woman inside repeated back the order. It came out as a crispy chicken sandwich and the chicken cordon bleu, so Nate corrected that I wanted the Chicken Bacon Swiss.

We waited about 15 minutes at the drive-through window for our order, and I asked if the worker had gotten my request correct. We checked the receipt when the credit card was scanned, and it said chicken bacon swiss but with no special notes.

"What does it have on it?" Nate asked.


I hate mustard.

"I'll trade you if it has mustard on it," he suggested.

We got the bag from the restaurant and pulled forward as I unwrapped my sandwich and tasted the yellow stuff. Honey mustard. Yuck.

"Do you mind?"

"Nope," and he took my sandwich as I unwrapped his.

"Yum," he smiled.

I munched on his sandwich as he ate my order, and I told him "Thank you." I thought just how blessed I am that my husband tends to order a back-up for me that he knows I will like instead of what I get. He doesn't just trade me when I don't like something, he honestly prepares for me to not like something and orders accordingly.

It doesn't happen that often anymore that I don't like what I get, because my pickiness with food has decreased, but he still is willing to take on whatever I don't like and to give me what he wanted.

And he gave more later when I fell asleep on the drive home (I try not to do that often so I can keep him company), and he drove us safely back without someone to chat with or to share a smile with about what was discussed on the radio.

And then he unpacked the vehicle in the middle of the night.

That is a true man --- a selfless man who not only gives and doesn't get in return but who gives and doesn't get without malice or judgement. He never holds it against me. He never makes me feel bad about it. He just gives.