Happy National Chocolates Day (Nov. 29th) & Mousse Day (Nov. 30th) – ALMOST-FAMOUS CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE

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ALMOST-FAMOUS CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE

INGREDIENTS

For the cake and mousse:

1 18 .25-ounce box devil’s food cake mix (plus required ingredients)

14 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks)

unsalted butter, diced

1/4 cup strong coffee

10 large eggs, separated

1 1/2 cups plus 6 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups cold heavy cream

For the shell and sauce:

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup heavy cream

5 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

To serve:

1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar

1 pint vanilla ice cream

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DIRECTIONS

Make the cake: Prepare the cake mix as the label directs for a 9-by-13-inch cake. Bake; cool slightly in the pan, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.

Clean out the cake pan and line it with plastic wrap. Cut the cake in half lengthwise, then in thirds crosswise to make 6 rectangles. Using a serrated knife, slice each rectangle in half to make two layers. Arrange half of the pieces snugly in the cake pan. Crumble the remaining pieces and press tightly into 6 small balls; arrange 1 cake ball in the center of each cake rectangle in the pan.

Make the mousse: Heat the chocolate, butter, coffee and 1/4 cup water in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water), stirring, until melted. Remove the bowl from the pan; stir until cool. Reserve the simmering water. Fill a large bowl with ice water.

Whisk the egg yolks, 1 1/2 cups sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a separate large heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and whisk until pale yellow, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the chocolate-coffee mixture and the vanilla and whisk until combined, about 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the pan and set in the bowl of ice water; whisk until slightly cool but not thick, about 4 minutes.

Beat the egg whites and salt in a bowl with a mixer until foamy. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until almost stiff; gently fold into the chocolate-yolk mixture to make a dark chocolate mousse. Spread 5 cups over the cake and cake balls. Freeze until firm on top, about 30 minutes.

Beat the heavy cream and the remaining 4 tablespoons sugar until soft peaks form; fold into the remaining mousse. Remove the cake from the freezer; spread with the light chocolate mousse, cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Make the chocolate shell: Stir the chocolate, heavy cream and 4 tablespoons corn syrup in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water) until melted. A spoonful at a time, spread half of the shell mixture over the frozen mousse. Return to the freezer.

Make the chocolate sauce: Add the remaining 1 tablespoon corn syrup and the butter to the remaining chocolate shell mixture. Microwave 30 seconds, then stir until glossy.

To serve the cake, beat the heavy cream with a mixer until foamy. Add the sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Remove the cake from the freezer; invert onto a baking sheet and unmold, then invert again onto a platter, chocolate shell-side up.

Cut the cake in half lengthwise using a warm knife, then cut into thirds crosswise to make 6 rectangles; cut each rectangle in half diagonally to make 2 triangles. Top each triangle with whipped cream, ice cream and the prepared chocolate sauce.

 
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Happy National French Toast Day!!! (Nov. 28th) – Fluffy French Toast

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Fluffy French Toast

Ingredients

Original recipe makes 12 slices

  • 
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 
1 cup milk
  • 
1 pinch salt
  • 
3 eggs
  • 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 
1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 
12 thick slices bread
  • PREP
10 mins
  • COOK
20 mins
  • READY IN
30 mins

Directions

  • Measure flour into a large mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the milk. Whisk in the salt, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla extract and sugar until smooth.
  • Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium heat.

Soak bread slices in mixture until saturated. Cook bread on each side until golden brown. Serve hot.

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Wisdom Wednesdays – Acceptance

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Happy National Cake Day!!! (Nov. 26th) – Almost-Famous Molten Chocolate Cake

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Almost-Famous Molten Chocolate Cake

Almost-Famous Molten Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

For the Cakes:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 tablespoons melted, 4 tablespoons at room temperature)

1/2 cup natural (not Dutch-process) cocoa powder, plus more for dusting

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 1/3 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs, at room temperature

For the Fillings and Toppings:

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Caramel sauce, for drizzling

1 pint vanilla ice cream

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Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Make the cakes: Brush four 1 1/4-cup brioche molds (or use 10-ounce ramekins or jumbo muffin cups) with the 2 tablespoons melted butter. Dust the molds with cocoa powder and tap out the excess.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Bring the milk and 3/4 cup water to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat; set aside.

Combine the vegetable oil, 4 tablespoons room-temperature butter and the sugar in a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down the bowl and beater as needed. Add 1/2 cup cocoa powder and the vanilla; beat 1 minute on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl. Add 1 egg and beat 1 minute on medium-low speed, then add the remaining egg and beat 1 more minute.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the flour mixture, then the hot milk mixture. Finish mixing the batter with a rubber spatula until combined. Divide the batter evenly among the molds, filling each slightly more than three-quarters of the way.

Transfer the molds to a baking sheet and bake until the tops of the cakes are domed and the centers are just barely set, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack; let the cakes cool until they pull away from the molds, about 30 minutes.

How To Assemble the Cake:

Make the Filling: Microwave the chocolate, cream, butter and corn syrup in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals, stirring each time, until the chocolate starts to melt, 1 minute, 30 seconds. Let sit 3 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Reheat before using, if necessary.

Use the tip of a paring knife to gently loosen the cakes from the molds, then invert the cakes onto a cutting board.

Use the knife to cut a 1 1/2-inch circle on the top of each cake, cutting almost to the bottom.

Hollow out the cake with a spoon; save the scraps. Wrap the cakes with plastic wrap and microwave until steaming, 1 minute.

Drizzle plates with caramel, then unwrap the cakes and place on top. Pour about 3 tablespoons filling into each cake.

Plug the hole with a cake scrap. Save or discard any remaining scraps.

Top each cake with a scoop of ice cream. Spoon more chocolate sauce on top, spreading it thin so it hardens into a shell.

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Happy National Parfait Day!!! – Is Yogurt Parfait Healthy?

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parfait

The French word for perfect is parfait, and when you add whole grains and fruit to yogurt to create a delicious breakfast or snack treat, you are perfecting yogurt’s already considerable health benefits. Typically, a yogurt parfait consists of layers of yogurt, grains such as granola or crushed gram crackers and fruit. When the fat and calories are low, it can be a healthful choice at fast-food restaurants and coffeehouses.

Nutritional Value

When not loaded with additional sugar, low-fat or fat-free versions of yogurt are an excellent source of protein, calcium, and probiotics, which are microorganisms that help keep the digestive system working properly, according to information published by the Michigan State University. Fruit imparts a vitamin-rich and naturally sweet characteristic to your yogurt parfait. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that you eat two cups of fruit a day, and a parfait will get you on your way to fulfilling that recommendation. The Harvard School of Public Health says diets rich in fruits and vegetables lower blood pressure and reduce risks of heart disease, strokes, some cancers and some eye problems.
According to Familydoctor.org, the healthiest grains to use are oatmeal, low-fat granola or crushed crackers. These grains are healthiest because they are rich in complex carbohydrates, which regulate your digestive system and your blood sugar levels.

Making it Your Own

Much of the dish’s health benefits come from how completely customizable it is, with your choice of yogurt, grain and fruit. Take a cue from the Cleveland Clinic, which recommends adding some slivered nuts, wheat germ or ground flax seeds to add heart-healthy omega-3s and fiber that will keep your digestive system in good shape. Yogurt parfaits are healthy partially because they are so easy to make. If you’re in a hurry, throw in some blueberries or raspberries that don’t need to be sliced.

Healthy Additions

You can also add easy extras that maximize a yogurt parfait’s health benefits. Drizzle some raw local honey between the parfait’s layers. Not only will it add sweet flavor, the 2012 issue of “Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine” reports honey will boost your immune system and help reduce inflammation throughout your body. Sprinkle some cinnamon to top off your parfait’s healthfulness. A study in the March 2009 “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found that cinnamon lowers the rise in blood sugar levels following a meal.

Parfait Convenience

One of the key benefits to a yogurt parfait is that it provides an easy to make or purchase a portable and, most importantly, balanced small meal. A meal composed of all the major food categories — protein, carbohydrates and a small amount of fat — allows your body to take full advantage of the nutrients provided by each type of food.

Finding Room in Your Diet

At a fast-food restaurant or coffeehouse, a parfait seems like a healthy and appetizing option. Before you make your decision, though, take a few seconds to analyze the calorie and fat information on the parfait, which should be located either on the menu or on the ready-made parfait’s label. The American Heart Association calculates that with a typical 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, you should ingest no more than 56 to 77 grams of fat a day. Keep in mind that breakfast should account for a little less than a third of your total daily intake of calories and fat.

Credit: Live Strong

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Be Like Bacon – Francis Bacon (Knowledge is Power)

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Weekend Inspiration – We are the Champions (Queen)

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Greatest Hits I, II & III – The Platinum Collection (3CD)

Happy National Cashew Day!!! – Health Benefits of Cashews

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Cashew Nuts

Here are seven health benefits of cashews.

Cancer Prevention
Cashews are ripe with proanthocyanidins, a class of flavanols that actually starve tumors and stop cancer cells from dividing. Studies have also shown that cashews can reduce your colon cancer risk. Their high copper content also endows the seed with the power to eliminate free radicals and they are also good sources of phytochemicals and antioxidants that protect us from heart disease and cancer.

Heart Health
Cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts and most of it is in the form of oleic acid, the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Studies show that oleic acid promotes good cardiovascular health by helping to reduce triglyceride levels, high levels of which are associated with an increased risk for heart disease. Cashews are wonderfully cholesterol free and their high antioxidant content helps lower risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases. The magnesium in cashews helps lower blood pressure and helps prevent heart attacks.

Hair and Skin Health
Cashews are rich in the mineral copper. An essential component of many enzymes, copper plays its part in a broad array of processes. One copper-containing enzyme, tyrosinase, converts tyrosine to melanin, which is the pigment that gives hair and skin its color. Without the copper cashews are so abundant in, these enzymes would not be able to do their jobs.

Bone Health
Cashews are particularly rich in magnesium. It’s a well-known fact that calcium is necessary for strong bones, but magnesium is as well. Most of the magnesium in the human body is in our bones. Some of it helps lend bones their physical structure, and the remainder is located on the surface of the bone where it is stored for the body to use as it needs. Copper found in cashews is vital for the function of enzymes involved in combining collagen and elastin, providing substance and flexibility in bones and joints.

Good for the Nerves By preventing calcium from rushing into nerve cells and activating them, magnesium keeps our nerves relaxed and thereby our blood vessels and muscles too. Too little magnesium means too much calcium can gain entrance to the nerve cell, causing it to send too many messages, and leading to too much contraction.

Insufficient magnesium leads to higher blood pressure, muscle tension, migraine headaches, soreness and fatigue. Not surprisingly, studies have demonstrated that magnesium helps diminish the frequency of migraine attacks, lowers blood pressure and helps prevent heart attacks.

Prevent Gallstones
Data collected on 80,718 women from the Nurses’ Health Study demonstrates that women who eat at least an ounce of nuts each week, such as cashews, have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones.

Weight Loss
People who eat nuts twice a week are much less likely to gain weight than those who rarely eat nuts. Cashew nuts are indeed relatively high in fat, but it is considered “good fat.” This is attributable to the ideal fat ratio in the nut, 1:2:1 for saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated, respectively, which is recommended by scientists for tip-top health. Cashew nuts contain less fat than most other popular nuts, including peanuts, pecans, almonds and walnuts. They are dense in energy and high in dietary fiber, making them a very valuable snack for managing weight gain.

Photo Credit: http://www.roadtripsrus.com

Credit: Health Diaries

 

Happy National Gingerbread Day!!! (Nov. 21st) – Cholly’s World-Famous Gingerbread Cake

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Cholly’s World-Famous Gingerbread Cake

Ingredients

1 cup dark molasses

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter, at room temperature

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

2 large eggs Unsweetened cocoa and/or powdered sugar (optional)

Fresh mint sprigs (optional), rinsed

Preparation

  1. In a 2- to 3-quart pan over high heat, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in molasses and baking soda. After mixture stops foaming, stir in 1/2 cup cold water; let cool to room temperature, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves.
  3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and brown sugar until well blended. Beat in eggs until blended. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add flour and molasses mixtures alternately until incorporated, then beat on high speed until well blended. Pour into a buttered and floured 9-inch square pan.
  4. Bake in a 325° regular or convection oven until a toothpick inserted in center of thickest part comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack at least 1 1/4 hours.
  5. Pour about 1/4 cup crème anglaise onto each plate. Cut cake into pieces (see notes) and set them in sauce on plates. If desired, lightly sift cocoa and/or powdered sugar over each plate and garnish with a mint sprig. Offer remaining crème anglaise to add to taste.

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All Men are not the same by Trying to Make things Right (BLW Contributor)

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Dr. Martin Luther King jr

I want to talk about something that is very important to me, i want to talk about how society is developing a very negative attitude towards men. This is something that needs to be addressed and stopped. I know that there are men who have done terrible things in this world, but there are many more men who have done extraordinary and wonderful things, and to put all men in the same category simply because they are male is preposterous.

If all men are the same because they are male then it stands to reason that all women must be the same because they are female. So i ask you are all women the same as Andrea Yates, the woman who drowned her five children in her bathtub in 2001? Are all women the same as Casey Anthony, the woman who ( regardless of what the courts said)  killed her 2 year old daughter?  

Serial killer, Ted Bundy

Are all women the same as Aileen Wuornos, the serial killer who killed 7 men, in 1989 and 1990? I could continue with hundreds more examples of women who have done evil things, but i think you get the point. Not all men are the same, not all women are the same, and it is really disturbing that there is this growing hatred for men, as if all the men in the world are responsible for the evil acts of others, just because they were male. This really bothers me, because the best people i know are men, my husband, my father, my 4 children, all of the sexism towards men is something that frightens me when i think about my boys futures.

You would think that with all the intelligence people claim to have in this day and age, that they would be smart enough to know that, women and men both have the ability to do evil as well as good, and that neither sex is better than the other, we each have wonderful characteristics, and some that arent so wonderful. So please stop with all of the bullcrap about all men being the same, because if all men are the same so are all women, and if that is true then every person in the world is a murderer, a rapist, and any other vile thing you can think of. The pictures above are the perfect example of how all men are not the same.

Stop the hate, it  helps nothing.

Check out other great articles from Trying to Make Things right  @ http://mommyx4boys.wordpress.com

Death of a King: The Real Story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final Year