Friday, December 19, 2014

Apple Pecan Cobbler

Here's an easy and delicious cobbler that's perfect for the holidays. It's good year 'round, but seems especially festive in the fall and around Thanksgiving and Christmas. It has a buttery crust and has the apples in it, but also has the nutty crunch of pecans. It's both hearty and sweet. I've also seen this recipe called a dump cake, but it's really more like a cobbler than a cake. Whatever you want to call it, try making this for your family and you won't regret it.

2 (21 oz) cans apple pie filling (or 5 cups homemade)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 box butter pecan cake mix
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, cold
1-1/2 cups chopped pecans

Pour the apple pie filling into the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan (or a large casserole dish). In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice together, then sprinkle on top of the apples. I didn't have plain allspice, so I substituted pumpkin pie spice and it worked fine.

Pour the dry cake mix over the apples and spices. If you don't have a butter pecan cake mix, you can just use a yellow cake mix and that works great too.

Cut the butter into thin slices and place them over the top of the dry cake mix. You want to cover the entire surface as much as possible. I always need an extra tablespoon or two of butter to do it. The butter soaks into the cake mix as it melts and makes the cobbler crust, so you don't want any bare spots.

Sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until the cobbler is bubbly inside and the crust is golden brown on top. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream on top. I haven't tried it yet, but I bet it would also be good with butter pecan ice cream. The hearty, nutty crust and tender apples will make this a family favorite for years to come. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

White Chocolate Fudge

Here's a great Christmas (or anytime) treat. This fudge is seriously addicting. If you like white chocolate, this is for you. It's so smooth and creamy and has a hint of buttery goodness in it. It doesn't take long to make either.

1/2 cup butter
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 oz white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate
7 oz marshmallow creme
1 teaspoon vanilla

Line a 9x9 baking pan with aluminum foil and spray it with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt the butter in a 4-quart saucepan over low heat. Stir in the sugar, sour cream, and salt and turn the heat up to medium. Stir frequently as it heats and boils. Boil until a candy thermometer reads 235 degrees Fahrenheit or until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage. To check for soft ball stage without a candy thermometer, drip a few drops of the mixture into a glass of cold water. If the candy starts to dissolve in the water, it's not done yet. What it should do is ball up into solid pieces at the bottom of the glass that remain soft, not brittle.

Once the candy reaches the soft ball stage, remove the pan from the heat and add the white chocolate and marshmallow creme. Stir until smooth. Return the fudge to the heat if necessary to make sure all the chocolate melts, but don't heat it back to boiling.

Note: I used ordinary white baking chips and it was great, but I suspect this would be even better with real, quality white chocolate.

Once the mixture is smooth, stir in the vanilla. Pour the fudge into the pan and smooth it until it is even in top. Cool the mixture for 3-4 hours at room temperature or 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.

Once the fudge is cool and set, remove it from the pan, peel off the foil, and cut into 1" cubes. Enjoy!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Are Women Naturally Good?

Focus on the Family recently posted this meme on their page.

At first glance, many people might be tempted to agree with it. But the statement in the poster is actually false.

The truth is that there are plenty of loving, gentle men who are worthy of respect but whose wives are not responding properly to their love and gentleness. Plenty of women have fallen for the feminist ideas that they should never submit or let a man lead them and will be difficult to live with, no matter how wonderful their man is. Even among women who are not feminists, it's difficult for many women to follow a husband's leadership because our sinful nature is in rebellion against God's plan.

Submission and following our husbands is something that must be learned, not something we're born with or develop naturally. Women aren't naturally good and kind any more than men are. We're all fallen. We have to work to develop good habits and learn to do what God wants of us.

It certainly is easier for women to follow a loving, gentle man, but the poster is wrong in assuming that the only barriers to a woman following her man are his flaws. That simply isn't true. Women also have to overcome their own flaws that stand in the way of the proper relationship they were meant to have.

Unfortunately, this attitude that women are naturally good and that men are the flawed ones that need to change is very prevalent, even among Christians. Imagine the outrage people would have if the scenario was reversed and the poster said something like this:
"Men are usually comfortable being kind and loving to their wives if their wives are submissive, keep up their appearance, and respect them."
People would be up in arms over such a statement that assumes that men are always wonderful if women will just behave as they should. Why is it any different if the assumption is that women are always wonderful if men are behaving properly? Both are wrong. Both sexes are responsible for their own actions, regardless of what the other person in the marriage does.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sheltering Children: What it is Really About

People often criticize parents who are careful about what their children watch, listen to, or read or who monitor their friends and influences very carefully. This criticism is very commonly made of homeschooling parents, though it has certainly been applied to others as well. The claim is that these parents are sheltering their children too much and that they won't know how to deal with the real world when they enter it upon reaching adulthood. Some even claim that sheltered children will be more likely to go crazy with the sudden freedom than children who have grown up exposed to evil things of the world and are used to them.

There seems to be a misunderstanding about what sheltering is and what its purpose is.

There's a big difference between knowing about evil things that can happen and knowing evil by being steeped in it. It is certainly possible to shelter one's children too much so that they are ignorant of reality and have no idea how to function in society or how to address the wrong ideas of the world. But that's very rare. The greater danger is in putting children in the midst of evil before they are prepared (developmentally and spiritually) to handle it. That is by far the more common scenario and the one more likely to result in problems.

You don't send a soldier into battle until he's trained, and you don't send a child into the world until he's trained either. Children are very vulnerable and need protection until they are prepared to fight evil on their own.

The process of raising a child should involve progressive steps to get them used to the environment they will face as adults and prepare them to face its challenges. In much the same way as a lion cub raised by humans must be slowly acclimated to the wild by being protected while learning how to take care of himself, children must be protected while gradually giving them more information, more rigorous training, and more freedom. You don't turn a tame lion, who spent his entire life being fed everything by humans, loose in the wild because he isn't prepared. And you don't turn an untrained child loose in the world because he isn't prepared. Parenting done right is a gradual process of preparation that should culminate in an adult who is capable and informed enough to make his own way without falling into the many traps out there.

I don't want to keep my children from knowing that evil exists or the different forms it can take. I don't want to keep them ignorant of the wrong ideas of the world. However, I don't want them to learn about evil things by seeing them taking place around them before they have been taught how to handle it and what the right position is. I want them prepared to handle the evils of the world - not shocked by them or caught off guard, but prepared to fight them. To do that, I have to shelter them from experiencing those evils until they can understand my teaching about how to deal with them.

Sheltering isn't about preventing children from knowing so much as it is about learning first things first. They need the framework to know how to deal with these issues first, before they come in contact with them.