Death in His Grave, by John Mark McMillan

He has cheated hell and seated us above the fall.

He has paid our wages once and for all.

He has risen! Happy Easter!

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Saturday Song Selection: The Oh Hello’s

I (Michael) am definitely an auditory learner, and music has always played a big role in my life. This has made Noisetrade one of my favorite sites to visit and get free music. Most of the time the songs I download are good, but nothing so great that I would want to share it online. This week, however, I found something I really just had to share. The band is called “The Oh Hello’s;” they are a brother and sister combo out of Texas, and their first album, “Through the Deep, Dark Valley” is fantastic; you really can only do it justice by listening to it all the way through. As a concept album it does a great job of touching on many great theological truths of the Christian faith through beautiful imagery. Below is my favorite song on the album, which I also heard this week in a Rome Snowboards video I downloaded. Clearly, this a band that will not stay unknown for long.

Head on over to Noisetrade and get this album, then give yourself the time to listen to it all the way through. Enjoy.

(Mini) Peanut Butter Cheesecakes

Confession time: I don’t like cheesecake. It’s not just that I’m lactose-intolerant; I actually don’t like the taste of the stuff. Gasp! There once was  a day when I loved cheesecake, but that day ended with me getting my gall bladder removed, and I haven’t liked it since. Nothing will put a damper on a dessert like surgery a few weeks before you’re graduating high school. Long story.

If I did decide that I liked cheesecake, however, I just might start catching up on what I’ve missed with these cute little mini cheesecakes, which I made for one of our YWAM Turner Valley staff on her birthday. March has been a month of baking for various events, and after participating in a cheesecake bake-a-thon a few weeks ago, I have come to appreciate the care and patience that comes with baking those popular confections. That care and patience is not necessary with these beauties – just pop them in the oven – no spring-form pans, no water baths, no hours-long baking time. And no wrestling to slice them into neat pieces. Individual portions are definitely the way to go. And if they crack a bit (as they always seem to do), melt some chocolate and pipe it into some fun leaf shapes on some parchment paper, allow to harden in the refrigerator, carefully peel off surface, and cover up those cracks. Too bad all kitchen conundrums can’t be fixed with chocolate…

Mini Peanut Butter Cheesecakes

Ingredients (Crust)

  • 1-1/2 graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter/margarine, melted
  • dash of salt

Ingredients (Filling)

  • 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy)
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 eggs

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tin with 12 cupcake papers.
  2. Mix together graham cracker crumbs, melted butter/margarine, sugar, and salt until combined. Scoop heaping spoonfuls of mixture into each cupcake paper; use the back of the spoon to press crust down into cup and slightly up the cup’s sides. Set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer/hand mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar together until completely smooth, scraping down the sides of your bowl as needed. Add vanilla and peanut butter, beating until smooth. While mixing, sprinkle in flour and add eggs one at a time until each is fully incorporated and filling is creamy.
  4. Scoop mixture into a piping bag (I used a ziploc bag and snipped a corner) to squeeze mixture into cups. Use a circular motion as you squeeze, until cupcake liner is almost full.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes until set. Cool to room temperature on cooling rack. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Recipe from www.alaskafromscratch.com.

Musical Monday {An Interlude}

We interrupt the usual Meet-the-Student Monday post (our students spent the weekend scrambling to finish Judges and Ruth, and were not available for interviews!) to bring you Musical Monday…

I love this cover of “10,000 Reasons” by Rend Collective (song originally by Matt Redman) from their new(ish) album, Campfire. Hope this song finds you singing God’s praise whether it’s morning or evening in your corner of the world.

(Carrot) Cake or Cupcakes?

 

Why pick when you can have both?

Okay, maybe I wouldn’t recommend eating both in one sitting, but what I do recommend is this delightful carrot cake recipe that can be made into a cake or cupcakes. Or both, if the need presents itself.

You see, here at YWAM Turner Valley, we have lots of allergies. Almost half the base is lactose-intolerant. We have three gluten-free gals, and one of those GF friends is egg-free too. As a result, I spend a lot of time looking up vegan and gluten-free recipes. Fortunately, I was only making this carrot cake for dairy-free folk, so I didn’t have to wrestle with weird flours or get creative with black beans (I actually made black bean brownies the other week and they were delicious…gluten free, egg-free, and dairy free. Easy.). So the cake pictured on the left is the regular version, with a gloriously dairy-filled frosting, and the cupcakes on the right are dairy-less, topped with “coconut whipped cream.” What makes the cake so flexible, however, is that it doesn’t have any dairy in it itself. Just top it to accommodate your guests, or your own dietary needs.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese-Whipped Cream Frosting

Ingredients

Cake

  • 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup slivered almonds (use nuts of your choice)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)

Cream Cheese-Whipped Cream Frosting

  • one block cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 1-1/2 cups whipping cream
  • icing sugar, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13×9 inch baking pan, or two 9-inch round cake pans. I made this cake for a birthday, so I went the layer cake route.
  2. Mix flour, nuts, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into medium mixing bowl. Stir well. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, sugars, applesauce and vanilla. Stir in carrots and raisins, if using. Add wet/carrot mixture to flour mixture and stir with spatula until blended (do not over mix).
  3. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 25 minutes if using round pans, or 30 to 35 minutes in the 13×9 inch pan, or until tester comes out clean. Cool for at least 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely before frosting (can be made the day before).
  4. Beat whipping cream until it becomes, well, whipped cream. Fold in cream cheese and icing sugar. Add the icing sugar gradually, testing as you go. I’m not a fan of overly “cheesy” frostings, but your tastes may be different. An electric mixer really helps the mixture to keep a frosting-like consistency. The whipping cream in the frosting makes it light and fluffy, rather than the typically heavy-tasting cream cheese frostings out there.
  5. Spread frosting over cake. If making a layer cake, don’t be stingy on the frosting in between the layers, as I was – you’ll have more than enough to cover the rest of the cake. Decorate your cake by sprinkling with nuts, if desired. I made a cinnamon star by using a star hole-punch: I punched a star in a piece of paper, and then taped two pieces of paper together, so the whole cake would be protected from the cinnamon, except for the star part. I lay the papers on the cake with the star in the middle, and used a shaker to sprinkle cinnamon over the star. I then carefully removed the paper.

Sadly, I am in the lactose-intolerant club, so I passed on the cake and went for a cupcake (which were made from the exact same recipe as the cake recipe). Fortunately, coconut “whipped cream” is just as good – in fact, some would say it is even better than cream cheese icing! And it’s super easy.

Coconut “Whipped Cream”

  1. Purchase a can of coconut milk. Make sure it is full-fat. I used the brand Thai Express, and it worked very well.
  2. Put the can in the fridge overnight.
  3. Take the can out of the fridge and open. At the top of the can there is solid coconut “cream” – the bottom of the can will be filled with coconut “water.” Do not mix, but carefully scoop the “cream” into a bowl.
  4. Add a bit of icing sugar, and whip, just as you would whipping cream. If you find the consistency too thick, just add a bit of the coconut “water” from the bottom of the can.
  5. Spread on cupcakes or cake!

Layer cake will easily serve 12 people. Recipe adapted from www.recipe.com (I used more applesauce and less oil than the original recipe calls for; used almonds, as it was what I had on hand; and added raisins, because they’re yummy).