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Posted in Recipes

Decadent Mug Brownies for Two

If you are on diet, it’s time to leave this page.  Seriously.

This totally simple, easy recipe has the power to destroy even the strongest of wills. 

I’ve seen it happen. 

Don’t take the risk.

Actually I shared this recipe with a group of friends at a girls night not too long ago.  We all needed a good chocolate fix and a long chat so I whipped up a couple batches of this heavenly concoction and we all indulged ourselves.  One of these friends was so impressed that I heard husband complaining about constantly finding brownie-soiled mugs in the sink every second day a few weeks later.  She is a mother of three boys… Who can blame her?

You’ve been warned.

This recipe is done in 5 minutes and results in a rich, decadent chocolate brownie that is the perfect balance of soft and chewy.  You’ll feel like your sweet tooth is satisfied for the rest of the year, but then wake up the next morning craving another.  Perfect for a stay at home date night on a cold evening…. Mmmm….

So here’s how it’s done:

Simply throw together 60 grams soft butter, 125 ml white sugar, 30 ml cocoa, 60 ml flour, 1 egg and 1 tsp vanilla essence.  Mix together well with a fork until the mixture is mostly smooth.

Divide the mixture between two microwave safe mugs.  The mugs should be large enough for the mixture to take up about a quarter of the space (you’ll need the extra space for the brownie to rise and be topped with ice cream).  For added indulgence, press a block or two of you favourite chocolate into the centre.  My personal favourite is Cadbury’s Caramel filled chocolate.  This time I added a teaspoon of dark chocolate chips to the top of each one.

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Then simply pop into the microwave for about 3 minutes.  Obviously, it will take less time if you only microwave one mug at a time, so just keep an eye on it.  My microwave is a little low on power so I recommend you put it in yours for two minutes and do a quick check every 20 seconds or so until it’s done.  You want to take it out when the sides are firm and the centre is still a bit wobbly.  Any sooner and you’ll have brownie soup.  Any later and you’ll have hard, chewy brownies that are altogether unpleasant. 

lrm_export_20170223_104703.jpgNow, let it cool for a one minute before fillingthe mug with your favourite ice cream.  I enjoy mint or good ol’ vanilla, but you can go ahead and be creative with your choice.  This time I tried out blueberry and vanilla.  It was heavenly!  And don’t be shy with the ice cream either.  Trust me, you’re going to need a LOT of it to balance out heat and richness of the brownie.

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So there you have it!  The easiest, most delicious chocolate treat that is perfect for almost anytime. 

Let me know what you think!

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Posted in Christian Living

When Quitting is Good

I’d give up chocolate – but I’m no quitter.

I wouldn’t call myself a quitter.  I like to think of myself as long suffering and endurant.  But I quit something pretty major this year – I quit my studies.

I’ll admit that it’s not as dramatic as it sounds.  I completed my bachelor’s degree in psychological counselling last year (which I’m super proud of considering that I completed my final year after having a baby in January).  So, what I really quit is the pursuit of a career.

In the field of counselling in South Africa, a number of qualifications are required to become a registered counsellor.  And that has been my dream for a long time – to become a counsellor and open my own practice.  I have basically completed the first step out of five.  Did I mention that my three year degree took me six years to complete?  I still have a long way to go.

Quitting, for me, meant not pursuing my honours degree.  It meant leaving behind formal eduation for a season – and it was hard.

I’m an academic.  I learn well and I study well.  I finished high school with flying colours and will be graduating Cum Laude in March.  I felt comfortable as a student.  I liked the feeling of learning and the sense of pride it gave me.

However, I also knew that spiritual life was suffering.  Spending hours each day with my nose buried in a textbook followed by the hours it took for me to process and grasp that information, left little time (and room in my brain) for me to work on spiritual things.  I had little desire to read my Bible and my prayer life was virtually non-existent.  I knew that I needed to make a change and the only way to do that was to take a break from my studies.

So I quit.  I never even checked to see if the application I had sent in November last year was accepted.  I closed the door and never looked back.

Nearly two months later, I can tell you that this was one of the best decisions that I have ever made.  Yeah, I can see all you feminists out there, rolling your eyes at the woman who chose not to further her education, but let me tell you – I’m happier than I’ve ever been and I am at perfect peace.

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And I’ve been reminded of some things.  Some important things.  Let me share them with you:

1. Following Jesus requires sacrifice

Of course, I’ve always known this to be true.  I have made many sacrifices in my Christian walk.  But I think that sometimes we become comfortable in our sacrifice.  We parent day after day, we tithe month after month, we serve year after year.  Before we know it, sacrifice becomes simple routine and we find that we are no longer challenged in our faith.

Laying aside my education meant laying aside a dream.  Perhaps only for a season, perhaps forever.  It was risky and it was challenging.  But is faith without risk faith at all?

2. Our dreams should be laid at the feet of Jesus

It is true that God gives us dreams for our lives.  I have no doubt about that.  I have dreamed about being a counsellor since I was eleven years old.  I believe that it is a God-given desire.  However, I have realised that our dreams do not always exactly mirror the Lord’s.  Our ideas of what our lives will look like cannot match the beauty of His.  His purposes will be fulfilled in HIS way and in HIS timing.  We need to realise that sometimes sacrificing a dream is simply giving it to God to mould into what He intends it to be – more beautiful than we could ever imagine.  But this takes letting go and entrusting it to the Lord.

3.  Experience is just as important as education

I loved studying, but I realise that just because I am not enrolled at a university does not mean that I have to stop learning.  Rather, it opens up a whole new range of learning opportunities.  Opportunities to learn in different realms and in different ways.  Experiencing the world for oneself is just as valuable as learning about it.  My education, therefore, has not ceased, but rather my method of study has changed.

 

So sometimes quitting is good.  Sometimes quitting isn’t giving up, but rather closing one chapter and opening another.  Before me lies an open book and I can’t wait to see what God writes in it.

Posted in Family Life

Goodbyes are hard

Okay, okay, I know.  I’ve been MIA for quite some time.  I can feel the tears of the blogging world dripping on my head. (Note the sarcasm).

Truth is, I’m going to be MIA for a little while longer. I know, it’s terribly sad, and it bums me out on a regular basis. 

But I will be back!

And I will be back with fire! 

For now, I just need to finish my Psychology degree while trying keep my baby alive and my house clean. Not an easy feat I tell you! 

But don’t despair. I’ll be done at the end of the year and back to blogging in 2017. It’s going to be a beautiful year!

Until then, take some time out to read through my archives and check out this lovely lady’s blog… Hulisani has a started a blog on body image where she posts the stories of women from all walks of life. Today I share my story of my journey toward making peace with my post-pregnancy body. Check it out:

Sherae – http://wp.me/s7CZa8-sherae

And while you’re at it, go ahead and give that blog a follow =)

Posted in Recipes

Chocolate Cinnamon Meringues

My husband loves cinnamon.  No, seriously.  LOVES it.  You’d think living in the home of a frequent baker would be enough to make any man happy.  My man just complains that I don’t make enough things with cinnamon in them *eye roll*

Well, luckily for him, I was in the indulgent mood this morning… and I made a carrot cake (recipe to follow in the next few weeks) that resulted in two egg whites that I just couldn’t let go to waste.

So I threw together these beauties.  Aren’t they just fabulous?

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What I love about this recipe is that I can make these little treats in almost no time at all whenever I have a recipe that call for egg yolks and no whites.  The result is a bunch of tasty meringues that are crunchy on the outside and gloriously chewy on the inside.  Here’s how it’s done:

Beat two room temperature egg whites in a clean, grease-free bowl until they reach the stiff peak stage.  I was always told that if you could hold the bowl upside down over your head, the eggs have been beaten enough.  If not, you have some mess to clean up.

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Upside down with no spills!

Once your eggs are beaten, add 3/4 cup of castor sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.  You should have a thick, glossy mixture remaining.  Then fold in 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon followed by 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips.

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Yummy cinnamon!

Spoon out the mixture onto a paper-lined baking tray.  The meringues won’t grow too much, but be sure to leave a little space in between each one.  You can decide what size you’d like them to be.  I do about a desert spoon size for each one.  I like to add some chocolate sprinkles to the top of each one for that extra bit of flare.

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Ready to go in…

Then pop your little beauties into a oven preheated to 160 degrees centigrade.  Bake for 20 minutes and then turn your oven off.  Leave the meringues in the oven for another ten minutes before removing them.  Allow to cool and find a good place to hide them so you won’t have to share 😉

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Posted in Christian Living

Feeling down?

Today I’ve been thinking about sorrow; about sadness and grief.  I know, it sounds awful.  What a sorry life I must live right?  Just hold up a minute and you’ll understand.

I loved the new (can I still call it that?) Pixar movie Inside Out.  I thought it was such an accurate description of how many of us treat sadness.  We shove it away, push it aside and attempt to carry on with life, not realising that by repressing this vital emotion, we begin to numb ourselves to feeling anything.

I have always felt this kind of pressure within the church.  I’ve felt the need to be happy all the time, to always have a smile on my face, no matter what I might be facing.  After all, we are commanded to be joyful in suffering, are we not?  The Bible tells us to rejoice and praise the Lord, no matter what our circumstances are.

I always thought that this meant that I was to be happy all the time.  That I was to skip into church on a Sunday morning with a beaming smile on my face, even though my grandmother passed away the night before.  That when someone asks, “How are you doing?” my answer was always to be, “Absolutely fantastic!  God is so good!”

But yesterday I realised that this is not something that God expects of us.

Sadness is natural and healthy.  It is a perfectly normal reaction to a world tarnished with sin and death and pain.  Even Jesus experienced sadness and wept.

Times of sorrow are necessary.  They are times of reflections.  Times of looking at a broken world and knowing that it was never meant to be like this.  Times of longing for something better.  Tears may burn, but they also heal.  They allow release of emotions that cannot always be expressed.  They are not a sign of weakness (as I spent many years believing) but a sign of humanity.

You see, being joyful in suffering does not mean that no sorrow is experienced or expressed.  Rather, it means that no matter how great the sorrow is, God is still praised, He is still trusted and He is still believed to be good.  That is strength.

So next time you’re feeling hurt, depressed or just sad, don’t send Sadness away!  Embrace it.  Sigh. Cry it out.  But through it all, keep your eyes on Jesus and His goodness and get back up.  Fight another day.

Posted in Recipes

Gourmet Hot Chocolate

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While the northern hemisphere is enjoying beautiful warm summer weather, the rest of us on the other side of the world are going through winter. Luckily, in sunny South Africa, our winters are mostly pretty mild.  We get snowfall once in a blue moon, but the rest of the time we have cold mornings and warm afternoons with the occasional cold front.
Now, it most certainly doesn’t have to be cold for me to enjoy a mug of hot chocolate, but I like to save the good stuff for the colder days.  This is the good stuff… rich, creamy hot chocolate to warm your insides and your soul =)

The recipe is simple:
Heat 3/4 of a cup of milk together with the same amount of cream in the microwave. Keep an eye on it.  As it starts to bubble, take it out quickly as it will boil over in a matter of seconds.

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Stir in 80 grams of good quality chocolate and a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder (I like to use Cadbury Bournville cocoa). Once the mixture is smooth and all the chocolate is melted, it’s ready for drinking!  It’s pretty rich so you might want to consider sharing =)

If you’re feeling adventurous, try spicing things up a bit by doing one of the following:
-add a pinch of cinnamon and cayenne pepper for a Mexican flavour
-add a tablespoon of your choice of liqueur (Amarula is my personal favourite)
-add a dollop of salted caramel and top with whipped cream for some serious decadence 

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I tried to drink it all in this giant teacup... I failed and had to share the rest with my husband.
Posted in Family Life

A Shout out to Step Dads

Father’s day can be a painful one for many. I think of those who have lost fathers and those who have lost children. I think of those who’s fathers walked out and those who’s children are estranged.
I think about the many times that I wished that my own father was worth celebrating on Father’s day. I think of the many father daughter dances I’ve watched through misty eyes. I think of all the times I’ve wondered why me and my family weren’t good enough for him to stick around.
But then I think of my step dad.
My step father stepped in and stepped up. He stuck around and continues to do so. He looked after us and cared for us. He attended ballet concerts and award ceremonies. He was there.
I spent so many of my younger years so focused on the hurt my father had brought me that I missed the man standing right in front of me. Sure, he might not be the ‘fun’ guy or the emotional one. He might be strict and stubborn and a little obsessive compulsive about stupid things, but he is funny and loyal and protective and responsible. He learned to love a family that was broken and complicated and he made it his own.
And that is why he walked me down the aisle.
Not because my own father wasn’t available and willing, because trust me, he was and he made it clear.
No, my step dad gave me away because he earned it. He earned the heck out of it!

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So I just want to take a minute to honour the step dads out there. You are brave and you are strong. It is such a loving thing you are doing! Thank you for stepping in when others stepped out. For putting on your big boy pants and doing the right thing. For making the tough decisions and sticking it out when things get rough. Thank you for not giving up on us!

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Posted in Recipes

Chocolate mug cakes for two

Today I am sharing with you one of my favourite quick dessert recipes.  I love to make this when I feel like something chocolatey, but don’t have the time or energy to make an entire chocolate cake.  This recipe makes two perfect portions of warm chocolate cake.  Here’s how it’s done:

Firstly, you’re going to need two medium sized mugs.  In the one mug, add 30ml butter and 60ml chocolate chips.  Toss it in the microwave for a minute or so and mix with a fork until it’s all melted and smooth.  In the other mug, use the same fork to beat one egg and 60ml sugar.  Your two mugs will look something like this:

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Then add 30ml all purpose flour, half a teaspoon of vanilla essence and a pinch of salt to the egg mug.  Mix well, ensuring that there are no lumps.

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Add the chocolate mixture to egg mug and mix until all is incorporated.  Divide the final batter between the two mugs evenly and sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top of each.  Now all you have to do is pop the mugs into the microwave for about two minutes.  Your result should be a light, spongy, moist cake in each mug.

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Kick it up a notch and add some cream, ice cream or custard before digging in to deliciousness!

 

Posted in Family Life

Preparation

When you have a baby, getting out of the house is hard.  It doesn’t matter where you’re going, it seems to take a week’s worth of planning and preparation to actually make it out of the door successfully.  This has changed a lot of things for me.  My weekly grocery shopping has turned into a monthly affair.  Suddenly, I have baby shower gifts ready weeks before the actual event.  Last minute trips are no longer an option.  I have ONE chance to get there, ONE chance to get what I need and only ONE chance to get it right.  Failure means that I’ll have to go without until I find the heart and energy to make a second attempt.

With this in mind, father’s day shopping is being done early this year.  We still have two weeks to go (well, we did when I first wrote this post) but I’m getting my act together now, before it’s too late.

This father’s day is a special one in our house because this is my husband’s first one ever.  I’ll admit that I did get him a small gift last year since little Noah was already growing inside me and giving us the new identities of mother and father; but let’s face it, I was doing all of the work and Billy had no idea what fatherhood meant yet.  This year we get to celebrate his first steps into fatherhood and I am so excited about it.

Now, Billy has already knows what most of his present is.  The EAFA Euro soccer league starts this weekend and Billy is dying to watch it, so we’re getting a TV package for the time that it’s showing (we don’t have any TV connection currently because it is so expensive).  This, however, doesn’t cut it for me.  I love to put thought and time into my gifts.  I like to surprise and make someone feel special.  Satellite television just doesn’t have the finesse that I’m looking for.

This is why I went shopping today.  This is why I showered before 2 pm, put on real clothes and make-up and made the long, frightening trip to the mall with my little boy.

The result?  A perfectly awesome Father’s Day gift.  Check it out:

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I decided to stick with the sports theme and got some of his favourite snacks to watch the games with.  We’ve got Nachos, Doritos, popcorn, M&Ms, some chocolates and of course, the South African game-watching essential: biltong (there’s already beer in the fridge so I didn’t bother with that).

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I’m planning on adding a few sentimental touches later on.  I have a photo of Noah waiting to be framed, and I’m tinkering with the idea of making a card using his handprints… but I’m not sure that it’ll be too easy to do.  I mean, paint on a 5 month old’s hands?  I struggle to see that going too well.  Like shopping, I’m expecting to do a week of prep and a day’s worth of psyching myself up before trying that.