Friday, May 31, 2013

Strawberry Cream Pie


That is all I have to say about today's recipe.  It was DELICIOUS!  So here's the story:

A couple of weeks ago, my friend and I started planning a mini surprise baby shower for another friend.  Basically a girl's night out with a purpose!  So, of course, we decided that I would make dessert!  But that's where the dilemma started.  The friend we were throwing the shower for doesn't really like cake with icing.  She also doesn't like peanut butter desserts, so Reese's were out.  And I know she loves cheesecake, but mentions that homemade cheesecakes usually aren't quite as good.  She does, however, love cookies!  That was part of the problem though; I wanted to make something a little fancier than cookies.  So, I asked her husband for ideas... and that got me nowhere!  So, it was looking pretty bleak until I had the greatest idea ever!!!

I would look at her Pinterest!!!  Ta-da!  What better to make for her than something she's already expressed an interest in?!  So, after scouring her food board, I came across a Strawberries and Cream Pie that looked like it had a lot of potential!

I made several changes from the original recipe, but it's still a strawberry, creamy pie!  It was delicious (if I do say so myself).  We were discussing it last night while eating and in describing it and rating it we decided that it gets "five light and refreshing stars".  Lol!  It really is a great, light recipe for summer!

So without further ado...

Strawberry Cream Pie
Adapted from Just Putzing Around the Kitchen
Makes: one large pie (I used a 10" disposable pan, the original used a deep dish 9" pan)

  • 9-12 full size (rectangle) graham crackers, finely crushed
  • 5-6 tablespoons butter
  • 2- 8 ounce containers of strawberry cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat)
  • 1 large container (16 oz.) of Cool Whip (I used light)
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 carton of strawberries, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. For the crust: in a bowl, melt the butter, then add the crushed graham crackers to form a moist mixture.  
  3. Then, gently press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pie pan to form the crust.  (What size pan you use and how thick you like your crust will determine exactly how many graham crackers and how much butter you will need.  My 10" disposable pan used 11 crackers and 6 tablespoons of butter.)
  4. Bake for 10 minutes.  Set aside.
  5. Chocolate layer:  Melt about 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips in the microwave.  15 seconds, then stir; repeat until runny and smooth.  
  6.  Using a spoon or spatula, spread the melted chocolate into a thin layer all over the crust.  (It's ok if the crust is still warm from the oven.)  Then place in the refrigerator to cool while you whip up the filling.
  7. For the filling:  In a large bowl, stir together the cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar until creamy.  Then, in a few batches, gently fold in the Cool Whip.  I didn't quite use the entire container, but this part is up to you.  The more Cool Whip you use, the lighter and fluffier the pie will be.  My method was to just keep sampling until I came to a consistency I liked!
  8. Spoon the filling into the cooled pie crust and spread it out evenly.
  9. Layer the thinly sliced, fresh strawberries on top of the pie.
  10. Melt the other 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips and the optional whipping cream in the microwave**.  Spoon into a bag with a small corner cut off and drizzle onto the pie (the more the better).
  11. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
*The blog I got this from advised eating it within a few days because strawberries go bad pretty quickly.
**Adding the whipping cream to the chocolate drizzle is optional, but it does create a softer chocolate on top.  If you just use chocolate chips, the drizzle hardens in the fridge and is not super pretty to eat, but it still tastes good.

Oh, yum yum!  The hubs got a little single serving of this yesterday, and he keeps telling me I need to make it again today!  It was really, really good.  And it's completely perfect for summer!  Yippee!!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My New Adventure {Wednesday Wins}

I am so excited to share about my new project!  For months now, I have been toying with the idea of becoming a consultant for Thirty-One Gifts, and I finally took the plunge!  So, I am now an independent Thirty-One consultant.  {Please note that all of the following comments are my personal opinions and do not reflect the views of Thirty-One Gifts.}  : )

First off, what is Thirty-One, you ask?  It's a company that sells a variety of fun and functional products that help you organize your life.  The products are super cute and range from home organization to purses, and almost everything in between.  Thirty-One products are sold through independent consultants (much like Mary Kay, Avon, or similar jewelry lines like Lia Sophia).  Thirty-One is also a Christian based company that was founded on the values from Proverbs 31.  Honestly, the more I find out about the Thirty-One community, the more excited I become!

Next up: Why Thirty-One?  Well, I've thought off and on about trying something like this: selling jewelry or make up, etc.  But I had never found products that I really felt passionate about.  I always hesitated because I wanted to make sure that I would personally buy the products I would be trying to sell.  Most people know that I am NOT a salesperson.  So, this is a big stretch for me, but I'm really excited because I just love the Thirty-One products and everything the company stands for.

So, if you are an organization fiend (like me) or just love cute bags, etc.  You should definitely check out Thirty-One.  I just can't wait to start figuring everything out and sharing all of their lovely products!  Feel free to check out my website if you're interested in learning more about Thirty-One!

Monday, May 27, 2013

S'mores and Summer {Lundi Little Lovelies}

Oh summer!  I'm about half a week into it, and I still feel like a chicken running around with its head cut off.  I haven't been sleeping well (starting out my first day of summer at 2:30am!), and I feel so busy!  Most of the things on my to-do list probably aren't that important, but still, I feel like every moment of my day needs to be scheduled in order to make the most of my time.  There is not enough time in each day to get things done!  This week though, mark my words, I WILL relax!  Lol.  It's not that I haven't relaxed yet, but I'm going to keep chugging away at this to-do list and get it done!

So, some little lovelies to share:
~I can now run 2 1/2 miles in 25 minutes without stopping!  Woot woot!  I am 100% sure that that is the longest distance and time that I have ever run in my entire life!  I feel quite accomplished about it.  Yay!

~Summer=more play time!  One of the reasons we've been so busy for the past couple of days is because, you know how it goes, at the start of summer, you always try to cram as much fun in as possible!  So, in the last week, we've gotten in a lot of fun activities!  {Yay for catching up on movies!  Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness down, Fast and Furious 6 here we come!)  I also can't wait to go to the beach again this week!  That's one big thing we haven't done since summer officially started.

~Summer=S'mores!  I'll tell you what, I love s'mores sooooooo sooooooo much!  Seriously!  We don't have anywhere to have a bonfire at our place, so I have been known to drag Thomas out to the porch with some s'mores fixins and candles to roast marshmallows for these yummy treats!  I have really been craving them lately since it's now officially summer.  So, I found this lovely alternative to traditional s'mores on Pinterest and couldn't resist making them for Bible study!  Enjoy!  (Beware though, they're super addictive, and it's basically impossible to eat just one!)

S'mores Bites
Adapted from Cupcake Crusaders
Yields: about 24

  • 7 whole (rectangle) sheets graham crackers (crushed)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 milk chocolate candy bars (I didn't have any, so I used milk chocolate chips, maybe about 1 cup)
  • 12 large marshmallows
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt the butter in a mixing bowl and stir in the powdered sugar and crushed graham crackers.
  3. Press mixture into a greased mini-muffin pan.  The more mixture you put in each tin, the less bites you will end up with.  I just filled as many as I could and the went back and redistributed my mixture as needed.
  4. Bake the graham crust for 4-5 minutes, until edges are bubbly.
  5. While the crusts are baking, cut the marshmallows in half using kitchen shears.  You may have to rinse/wipe the shears off once or twice if the marshmallows start sticking.
  6. Remove from oven and top each crust with one square of chocolate bar or about 5-8 chocolate chips.  And then place half of a marshmallow on each cup.
  7. Turn your oven to broil and place the pan back into the oven for 1-2 minutes or until the marshmallows are the desired color.  (I like mine slightly browned, so that took about a minute and a half in my oven.)
  8. Allow the cups to cool.  (I let mine cool for about 15 minutes and then stuck them in the fridge to firm up so I could get them out of the pan more easily.)
  9. Remove them from the pan.  (This was the tricky part.  I ran a butter knife around the edges to help my pry them out.)
  10. Melt the two remaining chocolate bars or about 1/2 cup chocolate chips in the microwave.  Heat for about 15 seconds, stir, repeat until the chocolate is smooth.
  11. Dip the bites in the chocolate and let stand for about 1 hour.  (Once again, I stuck mine in the fridge to help the chocolate set.)
  12. Serve!!!  Yummy!
Yay for Summer!!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

SUMMER!!! {Wednesday Wins}

Woohoo!!!  School is officially out for the summer!  (I still have to go back in to work to finish packing up my stuff and everything.)  Yay!!!!

And what better way to start summer than with a delicious recipe and a to-do list a mile long!  Lol.  That second half is partially sarcastic, partially totally serious.  I love to-do lists, but at the same time, I'm spending my first night of summer at home, alone, trying to get stuff done.

But, Thomas and I decided to celebrate tomorrow night, so we're going to one of our FAVORITE restaurants and seeing a movie.  Summer for me really starts tomorrow afternoon.

So, tonight, it's down to business.  But first... a delicious, delicious treat!  I found this one courtesy of Shugary Sweets via Pinterest.  And, at our house, if it has "Reese's Peanut Butter Cups" in the title, you say thank you very much and eat the whole bowl.

This dip is awesome.  But beware... it is very addicting.  On Saturday night, when I made the dip, I ended up eating so much that I woke up at 3:30 am feeling awful!  Now, this probably won't be as much of a problem for you, but when I find something good, I really struggle with gluttony.  So, here it is!

(Oh, and I also used fat free cream cheese to try and make it a little healthier, but this dip is still definitely horrible for you!  Lol.)
Reese's Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Dip
From Shugary Sweets

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 8 ounce package of Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Minis
  • In a small saucepan, melt the butter.  Then add the brown sugar and stir well.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature before continuing.
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and peanut butter together.
  • Stir in the cooled butter mixture.
  • Add in chocolate chips and Reese's.
  • Enjoy with graham crackers, pretzels, Ritz crackers, etc.  (The salty pretzels are really good since the dip is really sweet.)
  • Store in the fridge (if there's any left!).

I won't bore you guys with my to-do list because it's insanely long and wouldn't mean a thing to you.  So,  happy summer!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I can't wait to...

So, with the end of the school year being only a few days away, a lot of my sentences recently have been starting with "I can't wait to..."  I have been so busy that I've racked up a list a mile long of things I haven't been able to do in a while.  So here are some examples:

I can't wait to... a book (or twenty).
...finish the scarf that's been on my loom since January.
...go out to lunch on a weekday.
...stay up late.
...sleep in the next morning.
...not know what day of the week it is.
...go get ice cream in the middle of the day.
...go to the beach (ok, so I may have already done that).
...go to a midnight movie.
...bake more.
...not feel exhausted all the time!

I know we're not all teachers, and we don't all get the summers off.  But is there anything you can't wait to do this summer?!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Saying Goodbye...

It's always hard.  Saying goodbye to someone, something, somewhere.  No matter how you felt about it, there is almost always something hard about saying goodbye.

Well, I am saying goodbye to a job next week.  I have taught high school for two years now, and the ending is coming up very quickly.  This decision has been a long time in the making.  Very, very teensy, tiny steps have been made for months now.  But, a couple of weeks ago, after so much prayer and thought, I made the final decision to quit.  I have struggled immensely with this decision for so many reasons, but one was driven to my heart today.  I love my students and am sad to leave each and every one of them.

Today, I told all of my classes that I wasn't coming back in the fall.  And after their initial exclamations and bouts of "yelling" at me, they wanted to know why.  And I don't blame them!  I wonder if it feels like a betrayal that a teacher who "seems" to have cared about them so much and worked so hard for them could just leave.  I want so badly to make them understand that nothing they said or did made my decision.  If I could, I would give up the job, but not my students.  I am praying, pleading, that they don't feel betrayed or believe that I never cared for them; I care so much.  But the problem is, I don't have one "good" reason to give them as to why I'm leaving beyond the fact that I just know that this is God's path for me.  It broke my heart today to break theirs.  I almost wish I was pregnant (as they all immediately thought I was) so that I could better explain to them my reasons for moving on and make sure they understand that nothing is their fault.  (I am NOT pregnant, nor have any imminent plans to become pregnant.)

So I sit at home tonight, sad.  I know 100% that this is God's plan, and He is working amazing things in my life (we can talk about that later), but I can't help but shed a tear for hurting the precious children I have had the honor of teaching.

But in another way, the sadness is comforting.  I am so glad that I can look back on my two years of teaching and, for all its downsides, still have fond memories and a heavy heart when leaving.  I am so glad that I do not look back on it with anger or bitterness in my heart.  The sadness is, in a way, a blessing.

Thank you Lord, for all your blessings.

These are the flowers that two of my lovely students brought me after they found out that I'm quitting.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A long time coming...

I know you've been waiting for this post... the next one.  For a while, you were probably thinking, come on girl!  Seriously?!  What could be going on that you neglect your blog for like weeks?!  Then, after a few days more, your thoughts probably didn't rest on it at all.  I'm pretty sure by now, you've assumed I just forgot I had a blog all together.  But, I didn't.  And, I've felt bad for neglecting it as long as I have.

But, here I am!

It has been an i-n-s-a-n-e couple of weeks in my life.  Last week, I was at school (my work) for at least 11 hours a day, everyday.  The week before, I had three 11+ hour days.  So by the time I got home, I had just enough time to gobble down some dinner, try to keep the house (and myself) in order and go to bed.  I've been exhausted.

But besides that, it's been a really hard couple of weeks emotionally and spiritually.  I've been dealing with some things and praying over them constantly.  Wrestling with a life-altering decision is always stressful (for me, at least) and throwing that into the busiest weeks of my life at work was not a good combination.

I really struggle with worry.  I always have.  And sometimes I have to fight the thoughts that "that's just the way I am".  Because God says it's not.  He says, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"  And "do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself."  (Matthew 6: 27, 34)  But Satan constantly attacks me in this area, and far too often, I listen to his lies.

I've even caught myself thinking lately, Thomas should be more worried about this.  We had a conversation about just that on the way home from church last week.  And I had to confess that I was really, really struggling because I am worrying A LOT about some things, and it is bothering me to no end that he doesn't seem worried at all.  And it kills me that I want him to join me in my sin of worrying.

Daily, I have to confess to God.  And daily I battle with this.  I know it is not a sin to be interested in the future and to desire to know God's plans and to hope and pray for the best.  But, worry goes beyond that.  Worrying about something says, "God, I don't trust You with this.  I don't trust that You have it all under control and will see me through.  I don't believe that you have plans for me, to give me a hope and a future."  And I desperately do NOT want to say these things to my Savior.  He is the only one who is completely faithful and true.  He is the only one who will never let me down, who never breaks his promises, who never fails.  He alone is worthy of my complete trust and faith.

So, daily I am dying to myself, my worries, my fears, and I am placing my trust and faith in Him who sees the big picture.

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?"  Matthew 6:26