Friday, July 20, 2012

Faux Mousse

I made up a dessert the other day. I decided to call it Faux Mousse because it's not made like actual mousse, but does contain cream. If you have a better idea for a name, please leave it in the comments! What follows is sort of a recipe. I didn't measure or write anything down, so these are my best guesses.

Aren't they cute? I didn't have any special little glass dishes made for holding Faux Mousse desserts, so I used punch cups that go with a lovely cut-glass punch bowl I never use. We have three flavors: Bailey's Irish Cream, Chocolate, and Strawberry.


First I crushed 6 graham crackers (the whole thing, the rectangle shape just as it comes out of the package) using the food processor. I microwaved about 2 Tbs of butter, stirred in the graham crackers, and spooned the mixture into the punch cups evenly. Once these were refrigerated, the butter got cold again and made it pretty hard for you to get your spoon through it until it had thawed a bit. I would recommend a thinner layer of graham cracker crust. These were almost an inch thick because of how narrow the bottom of the cups is, so maybe half an inch would be better. I smooshed the mixture down with the bottom of a measuring cup so it would be compacted.

I microwaved about a quarter of a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips next, stirring it every thirty seconds. To get it a little smoother, I added just a tiny blop of olive oil. You could use another oil of your choice here or just skip it all together. I just didn't think the chocolate would spread nicely enough on its own. Again, I divided it (more or less) evenly between the cups and smoothed it out with a small spatula.

Here are my flavors all ready to go along with the whipped cream. I ended up using maybe 1 3/4 a cup of heavy whipping cream and just a splash of vanilla extract, then using a hand mixer until it formed stiff peaks. (I whipped it a little too long, actually, until it almost started to turn into butter! Don't do that. I added a little more cream, though, and that softened it back up.)

I took about eight or ten whole frozen strawberries, thawed (in the microwave--I didn't plan well enough ahead to set them out beforehand) and pureed those in the food processor. Then I plopped in about an equal amount of whipped cream and blended it gently together with a spatula.

I did the same for the chocolate flavored Faux Mousse--this was about a cup of chocolate pudding leftover from the previous night's dessert.

As for the Bailey's Irish Cream, I simply poured 3 or 4 Tbs into the remaining whipped cream and gave it another quick blend with the hand mixer.

Using a regular table spoon, I plopped the whipped cream mixtures into the punch cups. Miraculously, there was just enough to fill two each even though I'd done nothing but guess at measurements! I garnished the Bailey's with a little sprinkle of a Holiday Spice Mix I made for Christmas, but you could use cinnamon, nutmeg, crushed candy cane.... whatever you think would go well with Bailey's. For the chocolate, I drizzled chocolate syrup on top, and I'd reserved about a tablespoon of the strawberry puree to top the strawberry Faux Mousse.

Next: spend the rest of the afternoon doing dishes! (Or put most of them in the dishwasher, huzzah!)

And there you have it! Six little individually-sized desserts in three flavors. Great for a dinner party, I think. The strawberry was rather tart, especially with the puree on top, so unless you like that sort of thing, you might add a teaspoon or so of sugar to the puree before you mix it with the whipped cream. The chocolate was delicious. I also liked the Bailey's, though because it wasn't mixed with anything besides just the whipped cream, it was very.... fluffy. 

These kept fine in the fridge for a day after I made them, but on the second day they started to get a bit of a skin on top. It wasn't nasty or anything, just not idea. I recommend making these, chilling them for about an hour (or until they're needed), and serving them that same night.


If you are the sort of person who likes real measurements, here's the best I can do:

Faux Mousse--
-1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream + splash of vanilla extract -- whip and divide by 3
-8-10 whole frozen strawberries
-1 cup chocolate pudding
-3-4 Tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
-1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
-6 whole graham crackers + 2 Tablespoons melted butter

Thursday, July 12, 2012


It is now slightly more than halfway through the year. (Cue flailing and shock.) How am I doing with my not-resolutions from the beginning of the year?

I will spend less time on the computer and more time reading books.

Um, sort of. I still probably spend way too much time on the computer, but I have read 21 books so far this year! I've finished a total of 2 (TWO) books since school got out. You know, a month ago? Oy. I did a lot better with this when I got 20 minutes of reading time with my students times three classes a day. I didn't read the whole 20 minutes every class every day, but even with just 20 minutes a day, period, I made a lot of progress. If I wasn't suddenly hooked on the Supernatural DVDs a friend is loaning me, I would probably be getting more reading done.

But hey! 21 books in just over 6 months! Not bad, I think. If I push it, I might make 50 by the end of the year, and that would be awesome! 
I will purge useless/broken/unwanted/unused stuff from the house.

I had a yard sale a few weeks ago. We got rid of the queen bed in the guest room (and replaced it with a futon which takes up way less space), a little table, some speakers, the bean bag chair we never used, and our old bookcase. We now have room for two NEW bookcases (which are jam packed full! and now there are NO books in stacks on the floor in my office), and we shifted some things around the dining area so it's more open and, I think, looks nicer. Anything not sold at the yard sale was carted off to Goodwill. Yay! We also cleaned up the guest room a little, got rid of an embarrassing amount of trash, I even managed to part with some wardrobe items I never wore. 

I will write at night in my Book of Days planner/journal at least a few lines about that day.

I've been pretty good about this. What usually happens is I'll space it for a while, then do two or three or four days at a time, but that still works. (Sometimes I look at my Facebook activity to remind myself what I did!) It will be really cool to look back on this in a few years, or even a few months. However, it's not exactly something I'll want to pass on to my children and grandchildren. There's some really really personal stuff in there. It's a just-for-me treasure. 

I will be a better housekeeper (which will hopefully be easier to do with less Stuff).

After the yard sale, the house was a wreck for a while as we moved things around, waited until we had money to buy bookcases, put them together, organized books, etc. etc. Ugh, I hated it! Since we got all of that squared away, however, it's still looking pretty nice. The piles of books on the floor of my office have a place now, freeing up floor space so there's only a very small pile o' stuff in there now. For the most part, dishes are being washed and then put away in a reasonable amount of time, mail gets sorted as soon as it comes in, the laundry is under control(ish), and you can usually see the surface of both the coffee table and the dining table! 

I will be a better listener and not an interrupter or a wait-until-you're-done-talking-so-I-can-say-what-I-wanted-to-say-er.

I think I am getting better at this. Although with some friends, sometimes, the only way to get a word in edgewise is to interrupt! ;)

I will pray more.

This still isn't happening as much or as often as I'd like it to or it should be, but what I have been doing is when I tell someone "I'll pray for you," whether it's on a Facebook post or in a letter or a text, I pray right then. There at my desk, in the car, wherever, just a quick prayer for them and their situation. That way I don't forget about it by putting it off until "the right time." It's always the right time for prayer.

I will write more--more letters, more blog posts, more journal entries, more stories, more poems.

Not so much with the blog posts, eh? I did, however, participate in Camp NaNo this June. It's just like NaNoWriMo in November, only they do two sessions in the summer: one in June and one in August. I wrote 50,138(ish) words in 30 days. The quick way to describe the story is "1920's carnival time-travel romance." I really like the story and I have the next at least 20-30 pages fairly well plotted out. Past that, I have more vague ideas, but I do have ideas! I thought I might have enough for a Book Two, but now I'm thinking it'll probably just be Part Two of the same book. I haven't written anything since June 30th (that's 11 days now), and I really need and want to go back to it. I'm actually not totally sick to death of the story, and I have IDEAS! This is a big deal. I've done NaNoWriMo 7 years in a row and have never finished any of those stories. I did continue to write on a couple of them past November, but then those, too, petered out to nothing. It would be a really great step for me to FINISH a story!

I've also tinkered with a couple of short stories, and of course I've done my usual geeky RPG writing with a couple of friends on IM. (I bet between the three of us, we easily do 50,000 words a month.) And I wrote three letters just today!

I will find a lesson plan format that works for me and I will plan in advance as well as I am able.

This was mandated by my school. After a lot of fussing and asking questions and "what if"ing and discussing, we finally got a template that, I think, works pretty well. It's not overwhelming, but it communicates to the teacher (me) and any administrators that happen to walk in generally what we are/should be doing that day. It's good. I just print out a few at a time and fill them in with pencil, usually for anywhere between 2-5 days at a time.

I will remember that I am not teaching Language Arts, I am teaching people.

(This is turning into a really long post, sorry.) This isn't an exact response to the not-resolution, but stick with me. During the Midsummer Night's Dream/Summer Solstice party I helped to host and throw last month, we did a neat little ritual I read about online. Everyone wrote down one or two or a few things they wanted to let go of, then we threw the scraps of paper into a fire as a symbolic gesture of watching them float away as smoke. I wrote down "anger" as one of mine. Certainly my students, individually and as a group, would really get on my nerves sometimes, especially the last month or so of school. Too often, I came to realize, I would react in anger instead of rationally and calmly. I realized I even do it at home to my husband sometimes, even to my pets! I've been trying to be conscious of that, and when I feel that anger rising up in me, I remember (or attempt to, as much as I can) that I'm speaking to a person (or an animal) and that 99% of the time, what they're doing is not to personally upset or attack me. They're just being themselves. I need to chill out, breathe, and handle the situation appropriately. Little by little little, I'm getting a bit better at this. 

I will not dwell on the past any more than I can absolutely help.

This is hard. I miscarried my second child in February, and this is the thing that comes up to bother me the most. The most often and the most strongly. It seems like sometimes when I think I'm doing really well, almost to the point of being smug about it--"I can look at this friend's baby pictures on Facebook and not cry!" "I can have a conversation about childbirth with a friend!" "I can talk about our 'someday' nursery or parenting skills with my husband!"--that's when I get slammed the hardest. I literally feel sick and my body feels heavy. I don't know how healthy this is, but the only thing I can do, right now at least, is to push it away into the back corner of my mind and make myself focus on something else. Usually this is after I've given into the feelings for a while and cried, sometimes alone, sometimes with a person I love. I might write about it, or just compose an imaginary blog post or letter in my head because I deal with things in words. And then I have to put it away, because otherwise I can't function and have a happy life. If I dwell on it, I just can't. So I guess I'll just continue to struggle with this... I don't know how long. It won't disappear when I finally hold my own baby in my arms, but maybe, hopefully, it will lessen. I just want to be pregnant and give birth to a healthy baby so, so badly. If you pray, please pray for my husband and I.

I will Skype loved ones that live far away.

I have not done this. I should.

I will love this year.

Yeah, for the most part, I have.