Today (February 10) is national cream cheese brownie day! This recipe sounds scrumptious and just in case you need an excuse to make them, the fact that today is National Cream Cheese brownie day is as good a reason as any, right?
To accurately test the doneness of the brownies, be sure to stick the toothpick into the brownie portion, not the cream cheese. (Leftover brownies should be stored in the refrigerator. Let leftovers stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.)
CREAM CHEESE FILLING: Microwave cream cheese until soft, 20 to 30 seconds. Add sour cream, sugar, and flour and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Make foil sling for 8-inch square baking pan by folding 2 long sheets of aluminum foil so each is 8 inches wide. Lay sheets of foil in pan perpendicular to each other, with extra foil hanging over edges of pan. Push foil into corners and up sides of pan, smoothing foil flush to pan. Grease foil.
FOR THE BROWNIE BATTER: Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in bowl and set aside. Microwave chocolate and butter in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, 1 to 2 minutes.
Whisk sugar, eggs, and vanilla together in medium bowl. Add melted chocolate mixture (do not clean bowl) and whisk until incorporated. Add flour mixture and fold to combine.
Transfer 1/2 cup batter to bowl used to melt chocolate. Spread remaining batter in prepared pan. Spread cream cheese filling evenly over batter.
Microwave bowl of reserved batter until warm and pourable, 10 to 20 seconds. Using spoon, dollop softened batter over cream cheese filling, 6 to 8 dollops. Using knife, swirl batter through cream cheese filling, making marbled pattern, 10 to 12 strokes, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges.
Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 1 hour.
Using foil overhang, lift brownies out of pan. Return brownies to wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.
Want to save some money on these? Here are some coupons for some of the ingredients! Just click on the coupon(s) you wish to print:
Today is Ash Wednesday. If you are a regular subscriber to Christian blogs, you probably already know that and know what Ash Wednesday is. However, many protestant Christians (like myself) don’t really know what Ash Wednesday is. For you, I share this devotion from Patheos.com (used with permission). Thank you, Mark Roberts, writer of this devotion:
What is Ash Wednesday?What is Ash Wednesday? For most of my life, I didn’t ask this question, nor did I care about the answer. I, along, with most evangelical Christians in America, didn’t give Ash Wednesday a thought.
But then, in 2004, Ash Wednesday loomed large in American Protestant consciousness. Why? Because on that day Mel Gibson released what was to become his epic blockbuster, The Passion of the Christ. For the first time in history, the phrase “Ash Wednesday” was on the lips of millions of evangelical Christians, not just Catholics and other “high church” Protestants, as we anticipated the official release of The Passion. Every since 2004, many who never wondered about Ash Wednesday have been asking: What is Ash Wednesday? How do we observe it? Why should we observe it?
I grew up with only a vague notion of Ash Wednesday. To me, it was some Catholic holy day that I, as an evangelical Protestant, didn’t have to worry about, thanks be to God. In my view, all of “that religious stuff” detracted from what really mattered, which was having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In my early evangelical years it never dawned on me that some of “the religious stuff” might actually enrich my faith in Christ.
During the spring of 1976, my first year of college, I was startled to see a woman who worked in my dining hall with a dark cross rubbed on her forehead. At first I wondered if it were a bizarre bruise. Then I noticed other women with similar crosses. It finally dawned on me what I was seeing. Here was my introduction to Ash Wednesday piety. These women, who were all Roman Catholic, had gone to services that morning and had ashes placed on their foreheads. I felt impressed that these women were willing to wear their ashes so publicly, even though it seemed a rather odd thing to do. It never dawned on me that this would be something I might do myself one day.
Fast forward sixteen years, to the spring of 1992. During my first year as Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, I learned that this church had a tradition of celebrating Ash Wednesday with a special worship service. It included the “imposition of ashes” on the foreheads of worshipers. I, as the pastor, was expected to be one of the chief imposers! So I decided it was time to learn about the meaning of Ash Wednesday. I wanted to be sure that the theological underpinnings of such a practice were biblically solid, and that it was something in which I could freely participate.
Here’s some of what I learned . . . .
Ash Wednesday is a Christian holiday (holy day) that is not a biblical requirement (just like Christmas and Easter, which are not commanded in Scripture). Nevertheless, it has been honored by Christians for well over ten centuries, falling at the beginning of Lent, a six-week season of preparation for Easter. In the earliest centuries, Christians who had been stuck in persistent sin had ashes sprinkled on their bodies as a sign of repentance, even as Job repented “in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6). Around the tenth century, all believers began to signify their need for repentance by having ashes placed on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. Notice: even this sign of sinfulness hinted at the good news yet to come through its shape. Ash Wednesday is not some dour, depressing holy day because it symbolically anticipates Good Friday and Easter.
How Do We Observe Ash Wednesday?
Today, celebrations of Ash Wednesday vary among churches that recognize this holiday. More and more Protestant and even evangelical churches hold some sort of Ash Wednesday services. At Irvine Presbyterian Church, where I served for sixteen years as pastor, and at St. Mark Presbyterian Church in Boerne, Texas, where I now attend, the distinctive activity of Ash Wednesday services is the “imposition of ashes.” Ashes are placed on the foreheads of worshipers as a reminder of our mortality and sinfulness. The person who imposes the ashes quotes something like what God once said to Adam after he had sinned: “You are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Gen 3:19). This is the bad news of our sinfulness that prepares us to receive the good news of forgiveness in Christ.
Why Should We Observe Ash Wednesday?
There is no biblical commandment that requires us to observe Ash Wednesday. Thus, I believe this one of those practices that Christians are free to observe or not to observe. The theological core of Ash Wednesday is, however, shaped by a biblical theology of creation, sin, mortality, death, grace, and salvation. It also enacts biblical injunctions to “weep with those who weep” and to “confess your sins to one another.”
What I value most about Ash Wednesday worship services is the chance for us all to openly acknowledge our frailty and sinfulness. In a world that often expects us to be perfect, Ash Wednesday gives us an opportunity to freely confess our imperfections. We can let down our pretenses and be truly honest with each other about who we are. We all bear the mark of sin, from the youngest babies to the oldest seniors. We all stand guilty before a holy God. We all are mortal and will someday experience bodily death. Thus we all need a Savior.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of Ash Wednesday is that it begins the season of Lent. This is also a foreign concept for many evangelical Christians. In a couple of days I’ll weigh in on the meaning and benefit of Lent.
How Ash Wednesday Enriches Our Lives and Our Relationship with God
The denial of death . . . it’s all around us. When people die, they are often alone, sequestered in hospitals far away from the sad eyes of friends and family. If someone happens to die at home, the corpse is quickly sent away from the grieving relatives. In polite society, one doesn’t talk much about death. And when it’s necessary to say something that has to do with dying, nifty euphemisms keep us from confronting the brute facts. When I lived in California, people would say, “Uncle Fred passed away.” In Texas, for some reason, people are more succinct, saying, “Uncle Fred passed.”
Of course our own fears concerning our own demise match our cultural squeamishness about death. We don’t want to think about our own mortality, and we do many things to pretend that its not approaching. We dye our graying hair. We cover our age spots with make up. We get cosmetic surgery to preserve the image of youth. Rarely do we seriously think about our own death. As a pastor, I’m amazed at how unusual it is for someone to make plans for his or her own memorial service, or even to leave notes for the family. These are things we’d rather not have to bother with.
I’m reminded about a story told by my friend Tim, who was a restaurant manager. Part of his job was to explain the company’s benefit package to his new employees. One time, Tim hired a young man who didn’t speak English very well because he had recently immigrated to the United States. Tim explained the vacation policy, sick leave, and health insurance, all without incident. Then he came to the life insurance. He said that if the employee died, his family would get $25,000.
At this point the employee had a shocked look on his face, and said, “No, no, Tim!”
Tim wasn’t sure he had been clear, so he explained, once again, “Look, if you die, your family will get $25,000.”
Again, the employee was unhappy. “No, I don’t want it,” he said urgently.
“Why not?” Tim asked. “If you die, this will be good for your family.”
“But Tim,” the employee cried, “I don’t want to die!”
Ash Wednesday is a day to stare death in the face, to acknowledge our mortality. All of us will die. Christians who observe this holiday get ashes “imposed” on their foreheads, while a minister or lay church worker says, “You have come from dust, and to dust you will return.” In other words, “You are going to die. And here are some ashes to remind you, just in case you’ve forgotten.”
For sixteen years of Ash Wednesday services at Irvine Presyyterian Church, I put ashes on the heads of older adults, some of whom had serious cancer and didn’t live much longer. I also put tiny black crosses made of ash on the foreheads of babies far too young to realize what was happening to them. I imposed ashes on teenagers and senior citizens, on men and women, on boys and girls. All of these I reminded of their mortality, and they freely received the reminder. “You are dust,” I said, implying, “You are going to die.”
What gives us such freedom to think about death? Are we Christians morose? Do we have some peculiar fascination with dying? I don’t think so. Rather, what allows us to stare death in the face is the assurance of life, real life, eternal life. When we know our lives are safe in the hands of God, and that this physical life is just the beginning of eternity, then we’re free to be honest about what lies ahead for us. We can face death without fear or pretending, because we know the One who defeated death.
I’ll never forget my last visit with a dear member of my congregation named Helen. She was a tiny woman when healthy, but old age and disease had ravaged her body. I wouldn’t be surprised if she weighed 75 pounds on the day of my last visit.
There was no question that Helen was soon to die. And there was no point for me to pretend as if that weren’t true. So I asked her straightaway: “Helen, it’s obvious that you don’t have too much time left in this body. How are you feeling about dying?”
“Mark,” she said with a weak but confident voice, “I’ve lived a good, long life. I’ve been blessed far beyond what I could have hoped. You’re right, my body is giving out. I don’t have much longer to live. But I want you to know that I am ready. I’m not afraid. I’m eager to see my Lord. I hope I get to soon.”
Talk about staring death in the face! What gave Helen such unusual bluntness and boldness when it came to her own imminent death? Her faith in God. Her confidence that her life was really just beginning. Her assurance that her soul was safe in the hands of a gracious, loving God.
And so it is for Christians on Ash Wednesday. We can face death. We can admit our own mortality. We can talk openly about the limits of this life. Why? Because we know that through Christ we have entered into life eternal, the fullness of life that will not end when our bodies give out.
The emotional result of Ash Wednesday observance isn’t depression or gloom, but gratitude and new energy for living. When we realize how desperately we need God, and how God is faithful far beyond our desperation, we can’t help but offering our lives to him in fresh gratitude. And when we recognize that life doesn’t go on forever, then we find new passion to delight in the gifts of each and every day, and to take none of them for granted.
One year, as I returned to my seat after imposing ashes upon dozens of worshipers, I sat next to my 12-year-old son. I couldn’t help but notice the prominent black cross on his forehead, placed there by another leader. All of a sudden it hit me that my dear boy will die someday. Though I knew this in principle, I had never really thought about it before. My boy won’t live forever. His life, like mine and that of every other human being, will come to an end. At that moment I prayed that God would give Nathan a long and blessed life. And then I hugged him for a good minute, treasuring the life we share together.
How grateful I am for the grace of God that allows us to stare death in the face so we can live with greater passion and delight! And how thankful I am for a day that allows me to think about death so I can cherish life even more!
Just turn on the news and you’ll be inunated with happenings in the world and all around us that make the hairs on your neck stand up. Even non-Christians feel it. Something is about to happen. It’s even turning up in our television shows and movies, but it’s not late at night anymore. It’s on primetime in your face stuff! I hope those who take a pause to question if there is a connection get plugged in with a good Bible teacher who can help show them the connection so they can make an informed opinion about how all of this is going to affect their decisions.
Here are our weekly roundup and if I find a stray or two to throw in at the end it will be icing on he proverbial cake :} So here’s your lineup for this week:
Pastor JD Farag from Aloha Bible Prophecy. He’s awesome. You gotta hear what he has to say! :
Hal Lindsey Reports:
Jack Van Impe Presents:
Prophecy Watchers (Gary Stearman and Bob Ulrich):
Fellowship Bible Chapel – Why Israel Matters Today:
Israeli News Live (Steven Ben DeNoon):
Mark Hitchcock at Aloha Bible Prophecy speaking on, “The Rapture of the Church” :
Mark Hitchcock “When Will the Believing Be Leaving?”:
That’s it for the weekly updates. I’ll be adding more as I find them. However, below you may view some recent videos related to Bible prophecy that arent among our weekly lineup:
DutchinSe: Increased Earthquake Activity
Diabolical TREACHERY Behind Strange Sounds Heard All Over the World !!!:
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in a real crafty mood lately My husband went to Hobby Lobby with me the other day and we both used our coupons and saved about $23 on my new Project Life album for 2016 and the pocket pages to get the first few months going. That stuff can really add up! Here are this week’s crafty coupons:
Pat Catan’s has you sign up to get your coupon in your email. Click the image below to sign up!
If you know of other craft stores you’d like us to feature here, please let us know!
When I was going through the period before my rotator cuff surgery 13 months ago, I joined a Facebook group for support for those undergoing the surgery, the rehab, and all that entails. I made several new friends one of whom’s name is Debbie and she wrote the devotion I share with you this week. I read it recently and loved it and thought you probably would too! It’s about Rahab, the harlot that gave shelter to the two Israelite spies when they were spying out the land of Canaan before going in. This is her story and I think we can all relate to it!
Perhaps she was bored. Perhaps she wanted out from the confines of her parents‘ house. Perhaps she had been “soiled” by an over-arduous suitor. We don’t know. What we do know is that she was a harlot, a prostitute, a used woman – in today’s language, a whore. And her name was Rahab. Rahab must have been quite sought after, for she owned her own house. Conceivably it had been purchased for her by one of her customers. It was strategically built into the town wall of Jericho. She had the perfect view, and so did the men who desired her. She was beautiful, with long, dark, flowing hair, and eyes that glistened with unspoken invitations. Her clothing was provocative, yet she held herself as if she had no shame.
It was a sultry day. Rahab was most likely sitting on the rooftop, perusing potential customers, her raven black hair unbound.. With her red lips and kohl lined eyes she stood out as the person she was – a harlot.. Underneath her cool demeanor, there was a restlessness. She had heard rumors, from her prominent customers, that Jericho would soon be attacked. Maybe those thoughts led her to be more watchful as she peered down upon people entering the gate to the city.
Suddenly her eyes rested on two men, obviously foreigners from their appearance. Something clicked in her mind. She remembered the talk, every word. Oh those silly men, thinking women were beneath them, thinking that she would not understand the dangers, thinking she knew nothing about this God of the Israelites. But she remembered every word, and as she saw the two men, her heart began to pound. Suddenly she knew that she must protect them, but how? And why did she even care? Maybe this God was real, and if so, could change her life.
Rahab flew down the steps to her door, just as the two men were passing by. Giving her best seductive look (for she knew she was being watched), she invited the two men into her home. They were appalled! They knew who, no what, she was. Rahab swept between them, grabbing an arm with each hand.
“Quickly,” she whispered, “You are in danger. Let me help you.”
Rahab was correct; the spies were in danger. So she did what any self-respecting prostitute of the day would do. She hid them and lied about it, and by doing so, saved their lives. Fast forward a few days, and Rahab and her family were rescued through a deal made with the spies. In fact, Rahab, the prostitute joined the Israelites. Can you imagine the whispers around the cooking fires? I wonder how many wives watched their husbands just a bit more closely.
For you see, we tend to look at the outward appearance. We judge by what we can see with our eyes. Rahab was most probably ostracized by the women, but she remained faithful to God. He had saved her – literally – and she had no desire to return to her former life.
I love a good story with a happy ending, and Rahab’s story is one of the best. She ended up marrying one of the spies, and had a son named Boaz. But the most remarkable part of Rahab’s life is that she – a common whore – is listed in the genealogy of Jesus.
You see, God doesn’t look at your outward appearance. He doesn’t look at your profession. He doesn’t see your imperfections, your failures. God sees your heart. He sees what you can be, through Him. God used Rahab, a used woman, to be an earthly ancestor to Jesus. If He can do that for her, how can He use you?
I’m trying to work out a bug that’s making my browser crash when trying to send you a post for certain categories (food only, expiring coupons, etc.) so hang in there and bear with me till I hear back from tech support. Thanks!
Here are your coupons (I hope ) that will be expiring within the next seven days. Snag then while you can!