Saturday, December 21, 2013

Red Velvet Brownies and a 50th Birthday!

Yesterday my little sister turned 50!  Shocking, but true.  Like many siblings, we would fight over insignificant matters.  Who gets the odd Ravioli from a can we were splitting?  This was decided diplomatically. . . if you were the dividing the Ravioli, you got the odd one.  Why does my chore list seem harder than hers?  Why does she always cross the imaginary line down the back seat of the car as we traveled?  Why did she get to shave her legs years before I did?  Please keep in mind that this was a total insult to me.  I had dark hair and she had blonde!  Those of you with dark hair know why I was insulted by the fact that she had permission  to shave her "no color" hair while I had to have dark, hairy legs!  I could go on and on, but instead, will tell you that we are best of friends, even though we still argue on family trips!

Each year, we celebrate her birthday by having a "A Christmas Story" birthday party.  We have a blast eating Chinese takeout and dressing up as scenes from the movie. The best dressed group wins a prize.  Last year, we dressed as the "soap poisoning" scene.  When she answered the door we were ready with our lines.  Needless to say, we won the prize!  Usually, the Christmas Story party is delayed until my oldest son flies in for Christmas.  So on my sister's real birthday, we celebrate by going out to eat, but save the real party for later.  Last night, we went to her favorite local restaurant, Aunt Jenny's.  After dinner I invited everyone back to our home for a small dessert party.  My sister loves red velvet cake and my mother makes a special, scrumptious red velvet cake each year for the "A Christmas Party" birthday celebration.  Last night, I thought I would make a batch of red velvet brownies.  Not too much after a heavy meal and very different from my mother's delicious cake.
Let's take a look at this easy recipe:

Red Velvet Brownie Layer:
1 stick butter
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of red food coloring
1 teaspoon of vinegar
2 eggs
3/4 cup all purpose flour

Cream Cheese Layer:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter an 8 by 8-inch baking pan, and set aside.

Brownie layer: In a saucepan on medium heat melt the butter. Remove the butter to a large bowl and add the sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar, in that order, mixing between additions. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and stir it into the cocoa mix. Fold in the flour until lightly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, saving 1/4 cup of the batter for the top.

Cream cheese layer: Blend together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Gently spread the cream cheese layer on top of the brownie batter in the pan. Dollop the remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese layer. Using a skewer, drag the tip through the cream cheese mixture to create a swirl pattern. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before cutting.

Our dinner table overlooked the sparking, moonlit waters of the bayou. . . the red velvet brownies were a hit and the evening was filled with laughter and wonderful conversation.   A truly special night.

"A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life" - Isadora James
Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Let's Do A Little Vintage Christmas Shopping!

Last year, I wrote a blog post about vintage Christmas ads...Vintage Christmas Shopping  I love the color and detail in vintage ads.  I saved a few from last year to share with you this year.  Let's have a Girls' Night Out and do a little vintage shopping!

This has to be one of my favorites.  Any soldier coming home for Christmas is a special gift.  The ad from Greyhound Bus Lines captures the excitement of the moment. 
Vintage Coke ads always feature a jolly St. Nick with rosy cheeks. This ad caught my eye.  My husband is an avid train collector.
Plymouth's 1950's ad looks just like a Norman Rockwell painting!  He must have been a Plymouth fan!  We had a Plymouth when I was in junior high.  It was the size of a boat! 
Mom, this ad is for you!  For years, I gave my mother Evening in Paris.  I loved the beautiful color of the bottles.  My mother would wear it proudly.  I found out many years later that she hated the scent!  If you have the time, head over to my blog post on Evening in Paris.
Now this is an old one from 1920.  Tinker Toys certainly have been around a long time. My boys loved their sets of Tinker Toys. 
I know some of my Still Woods Farmhouse friends remember days of stockings with the black seam down the back.  It must have been hard to keep them straight!  Do you think they will ever come back in style?
Someone is up to a little mischief in this 1953 David Lockhart drawing!
This 1948 Maxwell House coffee ad is delightful! My dad has always said that the best coffee is made in a stove top peculator. Can't you smell the coffee?  It's good to the last drop!
Who wants a 1956 Cadillac for Christmas?!   Doesn't this handsome gentleman look like Carey Grant?
"You'll shoot your eye out" comes to mind with this ad!

Dubble Bubble still makes a great stocking gift!
This ad by the Tire A Rubber Company promotes the purchase of war bonds as a Christmas gift.  Obviously a wonderfully, patriotic company.
A 1949 television or radio makes a terrific gift.  "They'll fondly remember for years..." Do you remember when a television was a piece of furniture as well as entertainment?
Look at all the color and details in this 7 Up ad.  Just beautiful!
Guaranteed to give you a "lovelier leg complexion" at only $1.30 a pair!  I bet this ad caught the eye of a few men! If you search for vintage ads, you will find quite a few for stockings. 

Lastly, I'll leave you with one of my favorite ads.  This one is from 1948.  Love that lipstick!

Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse!
Sharing with these terrific blogs!
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Saturday, December 7, 2013

It's Time to Support the Ronald McDonald House Charities!

It's the time of year again when Dillards, Southern Living, and the McDonalds team up to create a lovely cookbook to support Ronald McDonald Houses.   I have often stated that McDonald's does three things really fries...and most importantly, their development and support of Ronald McDonald Houses around the world.  Ronald McDonald House charities offer families a home away from home while the family is dealing with a sick child.  RMH believes that families should not worry about where they will lay their heads at night or where their next meal will come from while taking care of a sick child, often far from home.  They have helped families with ill children for the past 38 years.  What a blessing for families dealing with a child's medical crisis. Our youngest child was born two months premature and was in a hospital about an hours drive from our home.  We were offered the assistance of the Ronald McDonald House for the duration of his stay in the hospital.  We were able to make the daily drives back and forth, but it was comforting knowing that if needed, they were there. I was at Dillards a few weeks ago and purchased the annual cookbook for only $10.00.  I not only picked up a terrific cookbook at a bargain price, but also helped to support this wonderful organization.

So let's peruse the pages of this years mouth watering addition!  How about starting with appetizers?  This bacon-cheese dip looks scrumpcious!
(Southern Living)
I love brie, so this one appealed to me.  It received 5 stars on the Southern Living website. This version is topped with ginger preserves, honey, and orange zest. 
(Southern Living)
We all know that life becomes a little hectic during December.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to come home and find the bases for this dinner waiting for you?
(Southern Living)
I make a version of this recipe.  Many of you know it as King Ranch Chicken.  Southern Living lightened it up a bit in this newest cookbook.  Looks delicious!
(Southern Living)
Brussels sprout lovers unite for Bacon-Brown Sugar Brussels Sprouts!  I could probably eat the entire dish.  This earned another 5 star review!
(Southern Living)
I must admit that I have not tried mashed cauliflower.  This recipe was another 5 star recipe and looks quite good.  I might have to try it!
(Southern Living)
I wish I worked in the Southern Living test kitchen.  Who wouldn't want to try shrimp and grits dressing?  Looks like it was a hit!  I love shrimp and grits, but a shrimp and grits dressing is a new one for me. 
(Southern Living)
There is a section of the cookbook called the 'Bread Basket" and is full of delicious recipes ranging from buttermilk biscuits to butternut squash spoon bread.  A recipe for pimento cheese rolls caught my eye. 
(Southern Living)
Or how about praline apple bread?  It would make a wonderful gift.
(Southern Living)

All great meals end with a fabulous dessert.   A layered peppermint cheesecake would make a beautiful presentation at your dinner.  The cheesecake layers are flavored with peppermint, while the cake is composed of sour cream and uses a base of a white cake mix.  Top it with a delightful layer of white chocolate mousse and a garnish of assorted peppermints and you are on your way to "cake master" status!
While you are out Christmas shopping, stop by Dillards and purchase a book or two.  You will not only have a wonderful cookbook full of eye candy, but will also help the important work of the Ronald McDonald House Charities. 
Blessings from Still Woods Farmhouse