“Be the change you want to see in the world”. – Ghandi
These cute mini peppermint cheesecakes have officially become one of my many ways to cope through events of the last week.
It’s been a bit rough around here, wouldn’t you agree? The tragedy at Sandy Hook still has me, along with the rest of our country, reeling. I haven’t been able to focus on much else; I’m not sure I can remember the last time I cried so many tears. Earlier today I pulled into the girls’ school parking lot to drop something off and saw a police car sitting at the entrance, watching. I felt both relief that he was there and sadness that it’s necessary.
It’s difficult to make sense of something so senseless. It’s difficult to feel joy in the midst of such tragedy and violence. I have cried many tears these past five days and repeatedly declared that something must be done, changes must be made! I’ve discussed it at length with so many people and it feels heavier and more impossible a task with each word. Yet after much thought about what I can personally do to help make our world a safer place for our treasured children, I’ve realized that while I may feel helpless, I am not helpless. If there’s one thing that I’m choosing to take away from all of this, it’s that I can be more compassionate, more focused, more giving and loving. I am choosing to be grateful for the reminder to be grateful.
When I wrote this post last May, I was very focused on “me”. Now that I’ve got “me” down, it’s time to focus on others. More time with my children and less time on this blog. More time in my community and less time in my home. More time for everyone that I love and less time for those who are less meaningful to me.
We’re also starting a “Good Times Jar”. I told the girls about my idea (it’s not my original idea, it’s just my idea to use it for our family) and they were both excited! I told them that, starting now, anytime something good happens we will write it down and put it in the jar. Then, next Christmas, we will pull them all out and read about all the good things that happened in our lives that year. Kylie asked if she could be the first to put something in the jar as something really good had happened to her yesterday at school. “I made a new friend! She is a new girl and we played together almost the whole recess today!” Yes, that definitely qualifies and we’re already off to a great start.
I’m not saying that major changes in gun control and within our mental health system aren’t urgent and necessary. And I can’t say that I’m not terrified for my country and our children. But being paralyzed by fear will not bring about the change that’s needed. And so I am starting with small changes at the very core of my own world in the hopes that it will have even a very tiny impact on yours. It’s what I can do right now, at this very moment, while I’m watching and waiting to see what our politicians do about the guns and the people in our country who need real help.
I mentioned that these cheesecakes served as a bit of sweet therapy for me. I’d been sick with the flu for a week and was in such a funk over Sandy Hook that the very first day I began to feel better I knew that cheesecakes were in order. I seem to always gravitate toward cute little treats whenever I need to cheer myself up. I picked up my girls from school on Monday, the first school day after the tragedy, armed with a plateful of these little cheesecakes and we drove to my parents and surprised them. It was such a nice afternoon – we all laughed our stresses away. I am always amazed at the way that food is universal and can bring people together. Although I suspect it’s not really the cheesecakes or lasagna or whatever dish it is being shared – I’m pretty sure it’s the love and thoughtfulness that went into it that’s really what it’s all about.
I’m taking a tiny break from blogging. I’m going to spend the next 10 days or so with my family, loving on them and spending every waking moment making sure they know how important they are to me. And I’ll have a lot of delicious goodies to share with you as a result! I wish you all very happy, safe and joyous holidays!
I want to express my condolences to everyone affected by the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary school. I hope that all the families are able to find some peace and comfort that will carry them through this holiday season and beyond. My heart and thoughts are with you.
Mini Peppermint Cheesecakes
Makes 12 mini cheesecakes.
- 12 oreos, crushed fine
- 3 T butter, melted
- 2 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar (can use all white sugar if preferred)
- 2 eggs
- 1 t vanilla extract
- 1/2 t peppermint extract
- 1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies
- 1/2 c melted chocolate for drizzling over cheesecakes (extra if you want to make stars and hearts for toppers)
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a mini-cheesecake pan.
Combine melted butter and finely crushed oreos in a small bowl. Place a heaping teaspoon (more or less, depending on how much you like crust) in each cheesecake well. Press down with fingertips.
In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until well mixed. Add eggs, vanilla and peppermint extracts; beat until light and fluffy.
Divide batter between the wells. (For two colors, fill halfway, add food coloring to remaining batter and finish filling). Bake for 13-15 minutes. Cool.
Meanwhile, pipe chocolate stars and hearts onto parchment paper or lightly greased tinfoil. Work quickly and add sprinkles before chocolate hardens to ensure they stick well. Allow to harden. (OPTIONAL)
Push each cheesecake out of its well from the bottom. With a thin spatula, remove each cheesecake from the bottom plate and place on parchment paper or lightly greased tinfoil. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy. Drizzle with melted chocolate and place a chocolate heart or star on each cheesecake.