Chip & Joanna Gaines’ Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

 1 (15.25-oz.) pkg. devil’s food cake mix
1 cup plain yogurt
4 large eggs
1 (3.4-oz.) pkg. vanilla instant pudding mix
½ cup plus 1 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 cup powdered sugar, plus more for serving
Fresh strawberries

 Preheat oven to 350°. Combine cake mix, yogurt, eggs, ½ cup warm water, pudding mix and ½ cup oil in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium, and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Gently fold in chocolate chips. Pour mixture into a lightly greased and floured Bundt cake pan. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove cake from oven, and cool in pan 10 minutes. Transfer cake from pan to wire rack; cool completely, about 1 hour.

Combine cocoa, 2 tablespoons water, corn syrup and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a medium saucepan. Cook over low, stirring constantly, until blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add powdered sugar, whisking constantly, until smooth.

Drizzle glaze over cake. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar. Serve with strawberries and vanilla ice cream, if desired.

via Peoplefood


Because of Love

A brother and sister had made their usual hurried, obligatory pre-Christmas visit to the little farm where dwelt their elderly parents with their small herd of horses. The farm was where they had grown up and it had been named Lone Pine Farm because of the huge pine, which topped the hill behind the farmhouse. Through the years the tree had become a talisman to the old man and his wife, and a landmark in the countryside. The young siblings had fond memories of their childhood here, but the city hustle and bustle added more excitement to their lives, and called them away to a different life.

The old folks no longer showed the horses, for the years had taken their toll, and getting out to the barn on those frosty mornings was getting harder, but it gave them a reason to get up in the mornings and a reason to live. They sold a few foals each year, and the horses were their reason for joy in the morning and contentment at day's end.

Angry, as they prepared to leave, the young couple confronted the old folks "Why do you not at least dispose of The Old One." She is no longer of use to you. It's been years since you've had foals from her. You should cut corners and save so you can have more for yourselves. How can this old worn out horse bring you anything but expense and work? Why do you keep her anyway?"

The old man looked down at his worn boots, holes in the toes, scuffed at the barn floor and replied, " Yes, I could use a pair of new boots."

His arm slid defensively about the Old One's neck as he drew her near. With gentle caressing he rubbed her softly behind her ears. He replied quietly, "We keep her because of love. Nothing else, just love."

Baffled and impatient, the young folks wished the old man and his wife a Merry Christmas and headed back toward the city as darkness stole through the valley.

The old couple shook their heads in sorrow that it had not been a happy visit. A tear fell upon their cheeks. How is it that these young folks do not understand the peace of the love that filled their hearts?

So it was, that because of the unhappy leave-taking, no one noticed the smell of the insulation smoldering on the frayed wires in the old barn. None saw the first spark fall. None but the "Old One".

In a matter of minutes, the whole barn was ablaze and the hungry flames were licking at the loft full of hay. With a cry of horror and despair, the old man shouted to his wife to call for help as he raced to the barn to save their beloved horses. But the flames were roaring now, and the blazing heat drove him back. He sank sobbing to the ground, helpless before the fire's fury. His wife back from calling for help cradled him in her arms, clinging to each other, they wept at their loss.

By the time the fire department arrived, only smoking, glowing ruins were left, and the old man and his wife, exhausted from their grief, huddled together in front of the barn. They were speechless and stunned as they rose from the cold snow covered ground. They nodded thanks to the firemen as there was nothing anyone could do now. The old man turned to his wife, resting her white head upon his shoulder as his shaking old hands clumsily dried her tears with a frayed red bandanna. Brokenly he whispered, "We have lost much, but God has spared our home on this eve of Christmas. Let us gather strength and climb the hill to the old pine where we have sought comfort in times of despair. We will look down upon our home and give thanks to God that it has been spared and pray for our beloved most precious gifts that have been taken from us.

And so, he took her by the hand and slowly helped her up the snowy hill as he brushed aside his own tears with the back of his old, withered hand.

The journey up the hill was hard for their old bodies in the steep snow. As they stepped over the little knoll at the crest of the hill, they paused to rest, looking up to the top of the hill, the old couple gasped and fell to their knees in amazement at the incredible beauty before them.

Seemingly, every glorious, brilliant star in the heavens was caught up in the glittering, snow-frosted branches of their beloved pine, and it was aglow with heavenly candles. And poised on its top- most bough, a crystal crescent moon glistened like spun glass Never had a mere mortal created a Christmas tree such as this. They were breathless as the old man held his wife tighter in his arms.

Suddenly, the old man gave a cry of wonder and incredible joy. Amazed and mystified, he took his wife by the hand and pulled her forward. There, beneath the tree, in resplendent glory, a mist hovering over and glowing in the darkness was their Christmas gift. Shadows glistening in the night light.

Bedded down around the "Old One" close to the trunk of the tree, was the entire herd, safe.
At the first hint of smoke, she had pushed the door ajar with her muzzle and had led the horses through it. Slowly and with great dignity, never looking back, she had led them up the hill, stepping cautiously through the snow. The foals were frightened and dashed about. The skittish yearlings looked back at the crackling, hungry flames, and tucked their tails under them as they licked their lips and hopped like rabbits. The mares that were in foal with a new years crop of babies, pressed uneasily against the "Old One" as she moved calmly up the hill to safety beneath the pine. And now she lay among them and gazed at the faces of the old man and his wife.

Those she loved she had not disappointed. Her body was brittle with years, tired from the climb, but the golden eyes were filled with devotion as she offered her gift ---LOVE. Because of love. Only Because of love.

Tears flowed as the old couple shouted their praise and joy... And again the peace of love filled their hearts.
This is a true story...


Christmas Wish


Slow Cook Creamy Chicken Pot Pie

2 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces  
1 cup heavy whipping cream 
1/4 cup all-purpose flour  
1 package (0.87 oz) chicken gravy mix
1 Tbsp. poultry seasoning  
1/2 tsp. salt
1 bag (12 oz) frozen mixed vegetables 
1 can (16.3 oz) Pillsbury™ Grands!™ refrigerated buttermilk biscuit 
Spray 5-quart oval slow cooker with cooking spray. Place chicken in slow cooker.
In small bowl, mix whipping cream, flour, gravy mix, poultry seasoning and salt; pour over chicken. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 3 to 4 hours or until chicken is tender.
Heat oven to 350°F. Stir frozen mixed vegetables into slow cooker. Remove slow cooker insert.
Separate dough into 8 biscuits. Top mixture in slow cooker with biscuits. Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes or until biscuits are deep golden brown on top and cooked through.


Pepper Jack Chicken and Stuffing

1 box Chicken Stove Top Stuffing
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1.5 lbs chicken, cut into chunks
1/4 cup milk
6 Tbsp butter, melted
6 slices pepper jack (or Swiss) cheese

1. Cover bottom of baking dish with chicken.
2. Lay cheese on top of chicken.
3. Mix cream of chicken soup with milk and spread on top of cheese.
4. Top with whole box of stuffing.
5. Drizzle butter on top of stuffing and bake at 350°F for 45-60 minutes.


Vanilla Walnut Fudge

2½ cups sugar
1¼ cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup Karo light corn syrup
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Butter an 8 x 8-inch square pan or line pan with buttered foil; set aside.

Combine sugar, cream, corn syrup, salt and butter in a heavy 3-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until mixture boils. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until candy thermometer reaches 235 to 240°F (soft ball stage). Remove from heat; do not remove candy thermometer.

Cool mixture to 100°F. (TIP: To speed cooling, place pan of hot fudge mixture in a cold water bath.) Remove candy thermometer.

Add vanilla. Beat mixture with a wooden spoon until it thickens and begins to lose its gloss (about 4 to 5 minutes). Stir in walnuts.

Pour fudge mixture into prepared pan. Cool completely. When firm, remove from pan; cut into squares.
(Makes 36 pieces) 


Eggnog Cookies

¾ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 egg yolks
½ cup eggnog
1 teaspoon vanilla
2¼ cups flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease cookie sheet and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter, sugars until fluffy. 
Add egg yolks, eggnog and vanilla, continue beating until creamy.
Add flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Beat on medium until well combined.
Roll into one inch balls and place two inches apart on cookie sheet.
Bake at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes.

Eggnog Frosting
½ cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
4 to 5 Tablespoons eggnog
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Cream butter until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add eggnog, nutmeg and cinnamon. Beat for 3 minutes until smooth. Frost cooled cookies and sprinkle nutmeg over the frosting in desired. Makes 32-36 cookies.


Mashed Potatoes Two Ways

10-12 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup butter
1 cup half-and-half, milk, or cream
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

In a large soup pan, cover potatoes with water. boil 10-25 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Drain water, then add butter, cream, salt and pepper. Mash with a potato masher or  mix with  an electric  mixer. Serve with gravy.

5 pounds red or yellow fleshed potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tsp. salt
1 cup half-and-half or milk
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 envelope ranch dressing mix (3 Tbsp.)

Place potatoes in a large soup pan. Cover potatoes with water and add salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce to medium-low heat and coo 20-25 minutes, or until tender. Drain and add half-and-half to potatoes. Mash with a potato masher or electric mixer. Mix in cream cheese and ranch dressing mix until smooth. Serve immediately. 


Amish Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter, softened 
1 cup vegetable oil 
1 cup sugar 
1 cup confectioners' sugar 
2 large eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

 In a large bowl, beat the butter, oil and sugars. Beat in eggs until well blended. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and cream of tartar; gradually add to creamed mixture.

Drop by small teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: about 5 dozen.  


Rhubarb Cake

1½ cups brown sugar
½ cup butter, softened
1 egg
¼ tsp. salt
1½ cups rhubarb; diced
1 cup sour milk (add 1 tsp. vinegar to make it sour)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 Tbsp. white sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon.

Mix brown sugar, butter, egg, and salt. Add baking soda to sour milk and add to the first ingredients. Add vanilla and flour; then add rhubarb. Pour into a 9x13” greased cake pan. Mix white sugar and cinnamon together and spread on top of the cake. Bake at 350°F for 35-40 minutes. Serve with whipped cream.


Over My Dead Body

Ingredients and Instructions
Cream: 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup oleo
Add: 2 beaten eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla  
Add: 3 cups flour, 3 tsp. baking powder, and 1 tsp. salt
Add alternately with 1 cup cream. Chill and roll  out with flour. Bake 350° and frost.


Turkey Chili

lbs. ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can (16 oz.) red kidney beans, undrained
1 can (26 oz.) stewed tomatoes
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 Tbsp. chili powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. oregano
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. salt
1½-2 cups water

Over medium teat spray a large Dutch oven with non-stick cooking spray. Sauté ground turkey, green pepper, and onion until lightly browned and onion and pepper are soft. Add the remaining ingredients plus the water and stir well. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.


Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cake Ingredients
1 1/2 cups ripe bananas, mashed
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 1/8 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk 
Cake Instructions
Preheat oven to 275°F. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan.
In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice; set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. 
In a large bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Stir in banana mixture.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven. Check it in about one hour, Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. (A bunt pan may take hour and 15 min.)
Remove from oven and place directly into the freezer for 45 minutes. This will make the cake very moist.
Frosting Ingredients 
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups icing (or powdered) sugar
Frosting Instructions
Cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Add icing sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth. Spread on cooled cake. Sprinkle chopped walnuts over top of the frosting, if desired.


Perfect Sweet Potatoes

Follow the recipe below to perfectly bake a sweet potato, without having to test and guess when it is done:
  • Don’t coat the sweet potatoes in or wrap them in foil. This is often required in baked sweet potato recipes, but it is time-consuming and not necessary. I’ve also found that this helps the skin separate from the sweet potato flesh, making it easier to peel and eat after baking.
  • Prick the sweet potatoes with a fork before baking. This improves the texture and helps the sweet potato separate from the skin.
  • Don’t place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet – put them directly on the oven rack. I’ve found the baking sheet to be unnecessary.
  • Place a sheet of foil over the bottom of the oven. This catches any syrup that may drip from the sweet potatoes. Don’t worry, sweet potato juice isn’t going to gush out and dirty your oven, there are just a few drips that turn into charcoal on the foil.
  • Leave the sweet potatoes in the oven after turning off the oven. The residual heat continues to cook the sweet potatoes without burning them, so they get exceptionally tender and moist.
Sweet potatoes or yams
Put baking sheet lined with foil on the lowest rack of your oven. (Don't put the foil directly on the bottom of the oven.) This will catch any of the syrup that may escape from the sweet potatoes. For easy cleanup, simply remove the foil and throw it away after baking the sweet potatoes.

Don't preheat the oven. Prick your sweet potatoes each 2-3 time with a fork, then place them directly on the oven rack in the middle of the oven, above the rack with the foil. Turn the oven on to 425.

Bake for 45 minutes for sweet potatoes/yams that are 2-3 inches in diameter. For sweet potatoes that are up to 4 inches in diameter, bake for an hour. For super large sweet potatoes, bake for an hour and 15 minutes.

After the time has elapsed, don't open the oven but turn it off. Let the sweet potatoes sit in the oven for at least 30 minutes but up to an hour. Remove from the oven and eat immediately, or remove the skin and store in a container in the fridge.

Makes as many sweet potatoes as you want.
via empowered sustenance

Christmas Countdown