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This week has felt as crazy busy as the month of December.
There was Mardi Gras cooking to be done, a Fat Tuesday celebration to be attended, Lent to be negotiated, and sick children at home that made it difficult to accomplish anything. Valentines day I organize desserts for our very sweet, very deserving teachers, and then we always cook for friends in the evening.
This year, instead of giving something up for Lent, I decided to add something – of course! A Gratitude Journal, and today, among many things, I am very thankful that after two weeks, all my children are well and back in school. I heart that.


Heat oven to 325F.
Place muffin liners into mini-muffin cups.
Cream together 1/2 cup shortening with 1 1/4 cups sugar. Add 2 well beaten eggs.
Sift together 2 cups of flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon soda. Mash 3 to 5 bananas.
Alternate adding to sugar mixture, 4 tablespoons of buttermilk, the mashed banana and flour mixture. Mix well. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup white chocolate chips.
Fill the muffin cups, and before putting the cupcakes in the oven, slip a marble between the liner and the muffin tin to form an indent.
Bake muffins for 12 to 15 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Treats from Arkansas Kitchens, 1960


confectioners sugar
2 packets unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
pinch salt
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
red food coloring

Spray an 8 inch pan with cooking spray.
Dust heavily with confectioners sugar. In a mixing bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water, and let set 10 minutes.
In a saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/3 cup water. Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar, then boil 4 minutes more.
With mixture on low speed, pour hot sugar syrup into gelatin. Continue beating until completely mixed. Turn mixer to high and beat 10 to 15 minutes more, until mixture has doubled in volume and is completely white. Beat in vanilla and food coloring, if using.
Spread mixture in the prepared pan. Let set 3 hours or overnight. Turn onto a cutting board dusted with confectioners sugar. Cut into desired shapes.

Recipe adapted from Parents Magazine, February 2006


3 1/4 cups flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons milk, divided
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red food coloring
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350F.
Coat a 13 X 18 pan with cooking spray.
Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder.
Whisk together eggs, vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons milk, vanilla, food coloring and vinegar. Add dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Scrape into pan (reserving 3/4 cup). Smooth to reach all the edges.
Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add sugar and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well. Pour cream cheese mixture on top of red velvet layer in pan and smooth mixture until it reaches all the edges.
Combine remaining milk with reserved batter. Stir well. Drop spoonfuls on top of cheesecake layer. Drag the tip of a knife through red velvet and the cheesecake layers to create swirls.
Bake 25 minutes or just until the center is set. Let cool. Cut into shapes using heart cookie cutters.

Recipe adapted from Relish Magazine, February 2013