Independence Day has special meaning for me this year. I was always in such a hurry to grow up, and prove I didn’t need anyone – I could do it all on my own.


Julie Anne in a rush to be independent

Then heart surgery quickly followed with a broken ankle kicked my butt. Asking for help has never been part of my vocabulary, so more than the physical pain, that is why this has been one of the most challenging years of my life. I hate asking for assistance, so much so, that I will usually throw money at it instead. People tend to be much more obliging when money is involved. The flip side of that is that as soon as the money disappears – so do they.

Whoops!
Is it preferring to hire help, rather than burden my family and friends, or is it really fear of rejection? The honest answer is both. I detest imposing on anyone, but it has been terrifying to be so reliant upon family and friends. It meant swallowing pride and conquering my fear of being perceived as weak, or simply not worthy, and ask. There have been disappointing reactions from a few, but I’ve been knocked out by the kindness and generosity of others, some little more than strangers! It’s taught me a lot about which kind of person I want to be, and it is a choice.
Jewels last July 4th in Croatia

Since I have always been so fiercely independent, it feels fitting that I should make my resolution for the year on Independence Day rather than New Years Day. I like the idea of turning over a new leaf without waiting for a new year. I look forward to regaining my independence, but this time with a concerted effort for it not to be at the exclusion of others. My wish upon the fireworks is to always be a better daughter, sister, mother and friend. I want to pay it forward and reach out to make a difference in some one’s life every single day.

Red Velvet Waffle and Whipped Cream Cheese Topping

 

Since this Sunday marks a special new beginning, I thought it appropriate to salute the day with a patriotic breakfast. Wishing everyone a very happy (and safe) 4th of July. They tell us to dream big – well don’t forget to wish big on those fireworks too!

Servings:4

Ingredients:

For the Whipped Cream Cheese Topping

  • 1/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

For the pancakes or waffles

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil plus 1-2 tablespoons extra for making pancakes
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 ounce red food color
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

Additional toppings

  • melted butter, optional
  • warm maple syrup, optional
  • pecans or walnuts, optional
  • blueberries

Directions:

1). Use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to whip the cream cheese until smooth. Reduce the speed and stir in the sugar, salt, and vanilla extract, and beat until the mixture is smooth and well blended. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the cream. Use a rubber spatula to remove any unmixed cream cheese from the bottom of the bowl. When the mixture is smooth, gradually add the rest of the whipping cream. Increase the speed to high and whip until soft peaks form. Should be the consistency of a dense whipped cream topping. Set aside.

2). Stir flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder together in a large mixing bowl. Mix in egg, oil, and buttermilk. Mix until smooth.

3). Mix red food color and cocoa in a small bowl, then stir into batter. Add vanilla, baking soda, and vinegar (in that order), and beat until everything is well incorporated, about 2 minutes.

4). Spray waffle iron with nonstick spray and heat until it signals it is ready for batter (usually indicated by a light). Open, pour desired amount of batter in, close iron, and wait for signal the waffle is ready.

5). Serve hot with whipped cream cheese topping, and any additional topping you desire.

Serving Suggestion: Crispy bacon and sausages.

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