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Dark Chocolate Almond Ganache Ice Cream

228E10B3-6F39-4BAC-A45D-830C7C86C6FEI stumbled upon a Chocolate Ganache ice cream recipe at ashleemarie.com but made a few changes, the biggest being that I added a handful of chopped raw almonds towards the end of the churning time. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, it’s obviously very rich and a special treat.

Dark Chocolate Almond Ganache Ice Cream

2 1/4 c heavy cream

10 oz dark chocolate chips

3/4 c sugar

3 eggs

1/3 c dark chocolate cocoa

1 1/2 c milk (I use whole milk)

1 1/2 t vanilla

Heat the cream in a saucepan until simmer. Place chocolate chips into a metal bowl and pour the warmed cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for five minutes. Stir till smooth and set aside. (This is classic chocolate ganache).

Mix the sugar, eggs and cocoa until incorporated and set aside.

Bring the milk to a simmer over medium heat and then add to the sugar, egg and cocoa mixture and mix until incorporated. Pour this back into the saucepan and heat through on low, for about five minutes as it thickens slightly. Pour this warmed mixture into the original ganache and stir till smooth and add the vanilla. Refrigerate for two hours to bring the temperature down.

Pour contents into ice cream maker, takes 20 minutes or so to become firm. Freeze for at least two hours before serving. Makes six 8oz servings.

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Celebrate!

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We were driving through some winding back roads in Indiana, listening to a local radio station early in the morning. This was last month, on a 1,000 mile drive to move our daughter to college, and we were just starting the second day of the journey. The radio host pointed to several areas of national and international news that were less than uplifting, and then announced it was time for a weekly segment they do called Good News Wednesday, encouraging their listeners to text or call in and share any bit of good news they had, from tiny to tremendous.

Within minutes, listeners were announcing big news like pregnancies and new houses, and tiny things like getting to work on time and looking forward to date night. What struck me was that so many were willing to participate; people want to share their good news, but often don’t know how or with whom they can. Also, as each proclamation was made, one of the announcers said something supportive in response. Every single time. And there were a lot! I felt so inspired after hearing the many ideas to celebrate, as well as the encouraging words of that radio station staff.

I was instantly reminded of a small group we were in about ten years ago. A newer couple sheepishly announced the husband had received a big promotion and we all cheered their good fortune, and thanked God for His provision when we prayed that night. The couple looked bewildered and then confessed they had been afraid to say anything, because they felt they had never experienced friendships who truly wanted the best for them.

So we resort to calling in to strangers to share our good news.

Y’all, we can do better. I want to be a person you call to brag on your child when they make the team or get into that college, when you see something wonderfully new in your spouse you didn’t see before, or when you get that crazy, pie-in-the-sky promotion. I want to cheer you on when you’re pregnant or not pregnant (somebody knows who I’m talking to), or your air conditioner finally gets repaired, or your prodigal child comes home. The truth is, when I hear great news about others it gives me an endorphin rush, or at least, it should. If I feel jealousy or resentment, that is on me, and I need to address it, trying to understand why I would feel anything but support for this person and then I need to get over it.

We are called to encourage one another, to love one another, to serve one another and to consider others more highly than ourselves. Let’s start this practice by cheering each other on every opportunity we have, not the fake stuff either, let’s desire the best for each other and celebrate like crazy when somebody gets it! So, I’m wondering…..what thing can we celebrate, big or small, for you today?

US Virgin Islands

I woke up this morning in a pre-set temperature room and went downstairs to a pot of coffee made minutes prior to rising. I turned on the news and got instantly updated on how Hurricane Irma is making her way through Florida and being downgraded as she goes. I am so thankful our friends all over the Sunshine state are safe and sound, many are going to have hours without power and days of cleaning up, but it could have been so much worse.

Except it was so much worse in parts of our country. The US Virgin Islands were hit in the very way that the media has been warning us about; St. John and St. Thomas are completely devastated with no power on the islands and no way to get to them by air. These tourist destinations are demolished with no resources. Now the problem is safety from downed power lines and fallen trees and looting.

So what can I do, as I sit with my laptop battery fully powered even though it’s plugged in, and plenty of food for lunch and dinner for today and days beyond? I can share. I’ve got a close friend whose brother lives in St. John and he is on the Board for the Salvation Army for the Virgin Islands, and is part of the coordinated effort between the Red Cross and Salvation Army. He assures us that money donated to http://vi.salvationarmy.org/virginislands/ will go directly to the aid of these islands. We have made a donation, honestly without even sacrificing a bit of the safety and security I feel in my home this morning. Can you do the same?

I am open to hearing of, and responding to, more ideas of how we can help these desperate people. Please read the accompanying article, it explains the current situation so well. And please, join me in prayer for the people of USVI.

http://vi.salvationarmy.org/virginislands/

http://mashable.com/2017/09/10/hurricane-irma-us-virgin-islands/#nsNyUQdHkaqu

 

Be Expectant

 

pedestrians-400811_960_720I was meeting a friend at Starbucks this morning. I got there first, but assumed she was waiting inside so as I entered the coffee shop I searched the room for a familiar face. I was met with two smiles from different sides of the room, and found myself returning the silent greetings, which felt pretty great, and it occurred to me that I often enter a room without expecting to recognize anyone, no scanning the room, no eye contact. I know people who grew up in this town and fully expect to see someone they know every time they leave the house, so it’s like a mystery each time; who will I see today? My second grade teacher? An old boyfriend?

I have moved many times over the years, and usually assume that I will not know a soul when I go to the grocery store or even be recognized as a regular customer at the dry cleaners, it just doesn’t happen. Every now and then someone will recognize me and it throws me for a second. I don’t want to make too big of a deal of this, but when you have lived in as many cities as I have, you don’t take a familiar face for granted, and the fact that someone would take the time to acknowledge me is like handing me a gift, because there have been times in life when I could go many days without making much of a connection.

So back to this morning. I walked in and looked up, fully expecting to see my friend and connected, however briefly, with two new humans and it changed the way that I felt. It was a simple reminder that perhaps I need to look up and expect to see someone in each and every room I walk into.

Review of Sun Basket Food Delivery

 

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I will admit that I kind of turned my nose up to the Hello Fresh’s of the world, I cook all the time, I don’t need anybody sending me deconstructed meals to prepare when I can buy it locally from the store, right? But then I read about Sun Basket, a California based company that only sends organic ingredients that are non-GMO and clean. I looked into it more and found the recipes are chef-driven, that you can request special diets like paleo, gluten free or vegetarian and they had a special price for first timers. I decided to try it.

When I signed up, I still had a couple of kids in the house, so I ordered three meals for four people and I got to choose the specific dinners from about eight choices for the following week. The food arrived on a Wednesday, packed well with dry ice for the meats and all ingredients were fresh. A booklet with easy to follow recipes comes inside the box, and it has all the recipes that were offered for that week, so you could make something else yourself that you didn’t order. Each recipe tells you how long it should take to prepare (and tends to be accurate) and all the nutritional info you could want.

How does it taste? We have really enjoyed most of the recipes. None have been bad, but because I love to cook, I have a lot of my own recipes, and I quickly learned it is best for me to choose food that I don’t normally cook; Thai, Vietnamese and Indian have been our favorites so far. I have noticed there is little to no dairy in each meal, and very little gluten.  After the first two deliveries, I decided to modify my order and found that it was fine to drop down to two paleo meals for two people each week, about half of what I was doing originally. This seems to fit our lifestyle better, and the cost comes out to about $25 per meal (including shipping).

Bottom line: we are going to continue using Sun Basket because it is a good way for me to experiment with different recipes that reflect the qualities we want in our food, and we can know the nutritional information of what we are eating. It’s a good feeling to know for sure that you have everything you need to pull together a quick dinner and it is fun to try some new ideas.

It looks like they have another special for new customers. Please let me know if you try it!

https://try.sunbasket.com/?offer=A-LQSEM35&SCID=BCPC&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Brand%20-%20Sun%20Basket:FullExpansion&utm_content=Sun%20Basket%20-%20Promo&utm_term=sun%20basket%20coupon&akd=81913627378110+kwd-39633923759+c

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How Can I Help?

Powerful four words to ask right now, in light of the flooding in Houston. I am tempted to wait and watch and see what is needed over time, and who is responding and how. But I am setting that desire to do what is best aside, and I’m going to just do something today. Anything. I’m going to share a link at the end of this post with organizations we can give to today to help our neighbors. I plan to donate to the Texas Diaper Bank because I cannot imagine the stress of needing diapers when you are displaced.

About ten years ago my family’s home was hit by a tornado, our house was marked as Uninhabitable for several months, and we received less damage than most. Many lessons were learned during this time, but one of the most profound was that our community cared. Within just a few days, we were invited into a church to take whatever was needed for our family; sheets, towels, toothpaste and ibuprophen were among the items we walked away with that morning. But more than the physical needs, we left that building knowing that our community wouldn’t let us fall. A few days later a local organization invited us to their warehouse to take whatever clothes we needed for the upcoming winter season. Humbled and grateful, we accepted coats for our three children from the very organization we had been giving to for years.

Another lesson? Wherever you are headed at the time of a crisis, you will arrive sooner than expected. We watched many marriages fail within 24 months of the storm hitting our homes. If your marriage is suffering and a big storm comes from no where, it is going to be easier to walk away than ever before. If you are considering bankruptcy and that storm hits, the decision will probably feel more like a necessity. The contrast is true as well, if your marriage is strong when a storm comes, you lean on each other in ways you never needed to before and you walk out of it more resilient than ever. And if you are living within a financial margin and that tornado comes, you can handle it and just about anything that comes your way in the future.

Know this, a storm will come. I don’t believe any of us are immune. The best thing we can do for ourselves is prepare, be strong in whatever ways we deem necessary, and the best thing we can do for others is respond with prayer or resources or donations. Let’s show our neighbors that we care about them. If you make a donation, please mention it in the comments and tell us why you chose the organization you did.

Here’s the link: https://www.sbnation.com/2017/8/27/16211866/how-to-help-houston-after-hurricane-harvey

Grilled Peaches

Peaches

We were just in North Carolina, dropping our youngest off at college and had to shop at the local Farmers Market for some fresh fruit and veggies for our girl before we left. We ended up driving peaches and blackberries as big as your head halfway across the country because they were too incredible to pass up!

Last night we had grilled peaches and vanilla ice cream for dessert. Grilling them just intensifies the sweetness, and adding a little butter and sugar doesn’t hurt at all!

Grilled Peaches

Turn on your grill and set the heat high. You can place the peaches directly on the grates, but I like to use a grill pan. Place the pan on the grill while heating.

Cut the peaches in two halves and remove the pit. I don’t bother to peel them, but you could.  Brush some oil (I use grapeseed) on the inside and sprinkle a little brown sugar and cinnamon on each. Please the peaches on the hot pan or grates and shut the grill top, allow to cook for 4-5 minutes and turn them over to cook another 3-4. Remove from the heat and add a pat of butter to each middle. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and savor the taste of summer!

 

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