The "I Don't Know" Predicament

>> Tuesday, June 3, 2014



I'm in a huge season of "I Don't Know". It's a real struggle for me. I like things very black and white.  I like something or I don't, and mostly I'm either good at something or I'm not - meaning I will then pursue it or I won't. When there happens to be an in-between, it's really not my strong suit. I kinda lose patience with myself, with everyone around me, and kind of like to throw mini pity parties. 

This "I don't know predicament" is flooding itself into just about every area of my life. There's the new job, raising an ever growing feisty little toddler, the somewhat unexplained knee pain and body aches holding me back from completely getting my running routine back, and feeling like I have lost my creativity in the kitchen. 




Let's talk about the kid! There are days that I really feel like I have absolutely NO idea what to do about the screaming toddler at my feet. There's something about a baby banging his head in public over your refusal of him eating bird poop that kind of gives you that "end of my rope feeling". Or flailing arms and legs every which way and screaming lungs while the church parking lot watches the music pastor's wife wrangle the kid to the car because he kept running on the stage. Makes me feel like I just won the mom of the year award! But really, the heart of the matter is - how do I raise a child that is passionate and strong but loving and kindhearted at the same time? I... Don't... Know! 

Wanna talk about post-baby body? Well, here you go. I've picked up running again multiple times a week (even if all things have NOT settled back into place - mom's you know what I'm talking about!) only to find that the knee pain that made me stop running while I was pregnant has not disappeared. Or running, and running hard does not a skinny body make! It used to work so well, why not now? I just don't know. 

I've recently decided to trade in a lot of the comfort foods I cling to for bare bones instead. Giving up sugar for a while in an effort to cleanse my innate addiction to the sheer love of food. Putting limits on the amount of food I'm letting in my body and being more conscious. Not as a way of deprivation, but just being intentional. (Except for that half a cookie I ate and hid at the bottom of the bag so my husband wouldn't notice I ate it!) But I've had to settle that these decisions have been good for my overall health, but have not made a bit of difference in the way I look. It's frustrating making the right decisions and not seeing any progress.... feeling the meaning of "I don't know what's going on here" to it's depths. And let's not talk about the cooking. Ha. Because I have shifted what I'm making a lot, it makes for new challenges, and I've found that I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing all over again... I've had several meal flops in the last few months! 



I have to tell you, sharing some of this, being honest about a few areas of struggle going on with me lately makes me feel a bit exposed. Opened up and raw. But something I think I've learned in the past 6 months.. I think it's okay to say "I don't know". I'm not sure why I don't know the answer's to things. I'm not sure why I haven't gotten clarity on what I'm supposed to do in situations. I think when I try and try and try in my own flesh, it makes things muddier. There has to be a time when I just stop my wandering and relinquish my own desire to know it all, have all the answers and figure it all out, and use it as a time to become vulnerable with those around me. Share my struggles with the people that really care about me, and maybe lean in and let God guide me from here on out - even if the answer to my "I don't know" is not always one I want. 

Not knowing the answers doesn't always lead to a restful night's sleep, but I've noticed that when I begin to open up the fist of things I'm holding on to, trying to figure out on my own, and share it with others - it makes you courageous and gives you a place to stand up on two feet for a bit while someone else helps carry the weight! I'm opening myself up to this more and more, and if you know me well, you'll know it's something that is really hard for me. But I'm deciding that I want something beautiful and meaningful in my relationships with others and with God, even if at the end of the day I'm still saying, "I just don't know". 

The "I don't know" doesn't seem so powerful when we allow others to help shoulder the weight of the unknown. 

Can you relate? Are you in a season of an "I don't know predicament"? Are you leaning on those around you because you can't figure it out on your own? 

Life was handing me lemons, so instead of lemonade, I made lemon cake! By the way... I know the cake in these pictures are completely against all the "cutting out sugar" nonsense I was discussing. But to be fair, this was actually made quite a while ago, before my no-sugar pact was made. It's best made with fresh Meyer lemons (which I happen to have a tree in my yard!!), but any lemons will do. I know you'll enjoy! 



Meyer Lemon Pound Cake 
Adapted from My Baking Addiction


Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups superfine baking sugar, divided use
zest from 6-8 Meyer lemons
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice, divided use
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp. plain yogurt
3/4 teaspoons pure Mexican vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Icing
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tablespoons milk
1 -2 tablespoon freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon pure Mexican vanilla extract
Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pans and dust with powdered sugar to keep loaf from sticking. 
2. In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups of sugar and all of the lemon zest until the sugar is moist and you can smell the lemon in the sugar.
3. Cream the butter with the lemon sugar mixture with a mixer until light and fluffy, and pale in color. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, one at time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
4. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup lemon juice, the yogurt, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the butter/sugar batter, starting and ending with the flour. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
5. Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1/2 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves. When the cake is done, allow it to cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Then remove the cake from the pans and set on a rack set over a baking sheet. Spoon the lemon syrup over the cake, allowing the syrup to seep into the cake. Cool completely.
6. For the cream cheese icing: Beat together cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Add milk, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and keep beating until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, you can add a little more milk 1 teaspoon at a time until you reach a smooth, spreadable consistency. Spread the icing over the top of the cake.

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The winner is....

>> Sunday, May 18, 2014

The numbers have been calculated... I made a list in the order the comments appeared both on my blog and through my Facebook page, used a random number generator....

And the winner of the Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla is.....


Crystal Morris!!! Congratulations! :) Hopefully you'll be able to make something super yummy with it.

Crystal - I'll email you for your information so that you can get the vanilla.

I'm working on another post using something delicious from my yard! I'll be back soon!

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National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day - Thursday May 15th

>> Wednesday, May 14, 2014


I am constantly tweaking things about myself.... I can't ever same to just do something the same way. 

I am usually a super black and white person, a rule follower through and through. I can tell you the speed limit on any given road. If the instruction manual tells you to do something, that is the way it must be done. And by golly, if there is a "Do Not Enter" sign, you might as well go straight to jail if you henceforth "enter". My husband gets so annoyed by me. He's a complete rule breaker. 


BUT when it comes to things about myself, or things I'm in control of, I tend to want to always change it up. My son's schedule - I change it all the time because, well, I must not be doing it right. When I run - I'm always trying some new routine (intervals, speed up and run as fast as I can, something to save me from the boredom of running on a treadmill). And when I make these brown butter molasses sea salted chocolate chip cookies (our absolute favorites around here), I like to tweak it just a bit. Again, my husband gets totally annoyed. Ha

This time, I tried a twist on the original by swapping out half of the flour for whole wheat flour (the texture is incredible and has a hint of a nutty flavor that really compliments the brown butter), using superfine baking sugar (it really helped the browned butter and sugar to cream together), and I swapped out my trusty Mexican vanilla for Nielsen-Massey's Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla. The flavors were rich yet mellow enough to add such a great flavor complimenting the molasses! YUM!


The Nielsen-Massey Vanilla is great for a cookie like this one when you don't want the flavors to compete. If you know me, you know how much I'm in love with Mexican vanilla.. I'm usually always stuffing it under everyone's noses, forcing them to sniff how amazing it smells, and it tastes just as great in dishes. But it can also overwhelm the recipe. This Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla is sweet and creamy and the perfect addition to a complex cookie such as this one. 

In order to celebrate National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, Nielsen-Massey has been kind enough to offer to give someone a free bottle of the Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla! If you want to have your own bottle for making Brown Butter Molasses Sea Salted Chocolate Chip cookies and celebrating National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day on Thursday May 15th with me then just leave a comment below!  Contest will close on Saturday, May 17th at midnight. I'll pick a winner randomly at that time. 

**Nielsen-Massey supplied me with a sample 2 ounce bottle of vanilla for review, however recipe, opinions, and content are my own. 


Browned Butter Molasses Sea Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies 
Ingredients:
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups superfine baking sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon dark molasses, not blackstrap
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tsp. Nielson-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
2 cups semi sweet or dark chocolate chips or chunks
sea salt for sprinkling on top of cookies just before baking - Don't skip this step!!!

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees

2. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat until foam disappears and butter has a nutty smell, the color being light golden. Remove from heat. Allow to cool while you mix together the brown sugar. 

2. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

3. In a medium sized bowl, mix the superfine sugar and molasses until no large molasses clumps remain. 

4. Pour the melted butter in a bowl of a mixer. Add the homemade brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.


5. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

6. Scoop onto parchment lined cookie sheets. Lightly sprinkle each ball with a couple flecks of sea salt to help bring out the chocolate flavor. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning.









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Around the Table

>> Thursday, April 17, 2014

Once upon a time, I was given a book called Bittersweet. This book, read in a dark season of life four years ago became to me, a lifeline. I read each short story, one at a time, savoring and craving the words on each page and tucking them into my heart. I knew I was reading the book for a purpose, I just wasn't quite sure what it was. 
Fast forward 3 years, when busyness had taken over. Life was more about getting things done, moving  through the ebbs and flows of working full-time, being a wife, being a part of a church plant. But I kept going back to the book, it was a stirring, and eventually an idea was born. I struggled to explain the idea first to my husband, then over lots of late coffee nights with my friend Laura. They were extremely supportive, as they both knew for one of the first times, I felt truly passionate about something. So we tested it out a bit. First there was trials, then there were errors (lots and lots of errors), and then there were tweaks to the idea, until finally the end result is something that makes my heart amazingly happy. 

                                  

On the first Wednesday night of every month, my house, my heart and most importantly, my table, is devoted to "my cooking group people". I love these girls, I love this night, and I LOVE being around the table. 

The idea is simple really, "Do Life Together". There are eight of us, each coming from such different phases and walks in life, it would seem impossible for an outsider to look into the group and think it would actually work out and that we'd all find common ground, but it's amazing. We truly do just that. There are some of us married with kids, some married without kids,  single, newly married, full-time out of the home workers, full-time in the home workers, 20's, 30's and 40's, and lots of cultures... all represented around my little dining room table. 

                             

You wouldn't think you'd find a single girl in her 20's drawn to lingering conversations with a stay at home mom.... but they are listening for every nugget of wisdom to draw on, tucking it away for when the time is right. There are so many laughs shared, so many matters of the heart poured out and wiped away with the swipe of a tissue, all of us thankful that there was someone to lean on and reach out to. Each girl brings something so unique to the gathering, that when they are missing, the group doesn't quite feel complete, because what makes it that way is the whole of us. 

Hours easily slip by like minutes, making all of us linger around the table for just one more story, one more glass of wine, one more bite of that warm cookie, until finally we reluctantly get up, knowing it will be a whole month before we're together again. The difference in this group, however, is that we're not just getting together to eat! We're getting together with the intentionality of doing life together. We know that some of the most intimate moments of life happen around the table

                           

The table has a way of bringing people together. You can show how much you love someone by calling them in, cooking a good meal, and posing one simple question. When you're sitting around a meal, tasting the flavors together, moments of silence don't matter, and it easily and quickly breaks down the walls and barriers that get put up with those we love the most. That's why I love my group. Because I always know, whatever's going on, I can count on those girls! They can make me laugh till I'm crying, let me cry because I'm sad and don't just tell me "it's going to be okay", they lift me up and encourage me, and most importantly they see glimpses of my heart! All because we take the time to just sit around the table! 





I know that seasons come and go... and life ultimately always creates change. My dear friend Laura, my partner in crime and encourager, and the one who helped me support this from the beginning, just moved away, leaving a gaping hole. Her presence will always be felt around the table. Maybe she'll get the opportunity to start her own new "cooking group". I know inevitably, there will be other changes to our group - someone will have a child, we'll lose family members, someone may move away or have a change in life where it makes it impossible to attend. I know that. But, for this season, for this part of my life.... I know that God has me right where He intended. It was no accident that this book was given to me four years ago, and it was no accident that it took me that long to figure out what the idea in my head really meant. Because Wednesday night is coming.... and I know who will be around my table! 

                               

A Note on the Burgers:
I have to say that I'm not usually a fan of fruit and celery in my burgers. In fact, I'm never a fan! But we made this at our last get together, and the burger was amazing. The mixture of fruit, onions and celery all sautéed made the burgers so moist, where as turkey can often times feel very dried out. 

We used an electric indoor countertop grill to cook them, and they turned out perfectly. The special sauce, although it sounds weird, is a must with the burgers. And no, it doesn't taste like McDonald's special sauce! Even if you don't like mayo - give it a try! We had ours with a warm whole wheat bun, and they were a big hit! 

Mar-A-Lago Turkey Burgers (Shauna Niequist) Makes 12 Burgers
Print Recipe
Ingredients:
1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
Olive oil
4 Pounds ground turkey breast
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons tobasco
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup mango chutney

Special Sauce
1/2 cup mango chutney
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup ketchup
2 dashes tobasco - to taste

Instructions:
1) In a large saute pan, sauté the green onions, celery, and apples in olive oil until tender. Allow to cool. 

2) While the mixture is cooling to room temperature, make the sauce. Combine the chutney, mayo, ketchup and Tobasco sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

3) Place the ground turkey in a large bowl. Add the onion, celery, and apple mixture and the remaining burger ingredients and mix together. Shape the mixture into 12 burgers. 

4) Place on a preheated, lightly oiled grill on medium-high. Grill on each side for 7 minutes or until meat is thoroughly cooked. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving. 


















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Real Life

>> Sunday, March 23, 2014


It's been almost a year since I've graced the pages of this blog. And even before that post, it had been close to 6 months. Why do I keep neglecting one of the outlets that keep me sane, something I love?  

Let's be honest, Life Is Hard! I  know that's not the pretty answer that you were probably hoping to read. I'm sure you'd probably love to just see pictures of my cute kid and the yummy food and move on, but that's not life for me right now, and putting it out there makes me admit it! 

My husband kept asking why I haven't been blogging, and I just kept giving him the same answer, "I don't know". But deep down, I did know. It just took me a year and a half to admit it. 


I don't think I have one neat answer all wrapped up in a box, and I don't think that by writing this one blog that everything will go back to normal. I think the blog is just a matter of saying it out loud, telling a little piece of my story, and just being honest. 

So, in order to be honest, I want to give a few things that have been going on with me. Like I said, I don't have all the answers figured out, but I think, even writing this blog is proof that I am getting to the other side, out of the sinking darkness that felt like I was drowning in. 

1) I had a baby - In case you didn't know (maybe you've never read this blog before, but I doubt it, because only my husband, my mom and my friends read this! Ha), I had a baby in December 2012. That in and of itself, was quite the adjustment. I mean, everyone knows that having a baby is an adjustment, and I feel like I mentally prepared for it before hand, but it still always takes you by surprise at how much will change, how little sleep you will get, and how much of your world will now revolve around this little being. 

2) This baby had an unexpected stay in the NICU - After Luke was born, he had several different health scares, including difficulty breathing and a low oxygen level which resulted in a stay in the NICU. I work with children with special needs, I did a fieldwork experience in the NICU, I frequently give support to families who are exactly going through what we did.... but nothing can prepare you for seeing your newborn child hooked up to machines just to breathe. For 2 straight days, I wasn't even allowed to talk to him - much less touch him or hold him. They were worried that the sound of my voice or the smell of me would make him work hard to try to be near me, and all of that resulting in increased heart rate and breathing. This isn't exactly the experience you anticipate. You are worried beyond belief, but you also miss out on the initial bonding that is supposed to happen between mother and child. Both for me and for him. 

3) He was one of the most difficult babies... EVER! - I might be exaggerating, but man, he was sure difficult. From the 2 week mark (only a few days after bringing him home from the hospital) to 10 1/2 months, he screamed at almost every feeding. It would take me upwards of at least an hour to nurse him or feed him a bottle. It didn't matter how many positions I tried, which bottle I tried, what specialist I went to, what the pediatrician said... he screamed no matter what! Feeling the weight of knowing you needed to sustain your child, coupled with a screaming/flailing baby on you every 3 hours was emotionally exhausting! There were days when I just cried because it was time to nurse again. I remember several times calling my mom and just crying, and I know she couldn't hear a word I was saying because Luke was crying so hard in the background. 

Because Luke didn't want to eat much (although you couldn't tell by the looks of him - he has always been quite large! ha), he also did not sleep well. Until he was a year, Luke never took a nap that was a minute over 45 minutes. Most days it was 35 minutes. And then he would scream! Once again, I tried EVERYTHING- we swaddled, we didn't swaddle, we slept upright because if was probably reflux, we paci'd, we unpaci'd, we "woke to sleep", we went to sleep earlier, we went to sleep later, we went to sleep in the swing, the stroller, and in the baby wrap. I can count on one hand how many times he slept longer than that. Even to this day, my child takes one nap which lasts approximately an hour to an hour and a half. EXHAUSTING! So much for "sleep when your baby sleeps". 

4) I felt like God had abandoned me - I have never ever felt more alone than in the last year and a half. Of course I have had my husband, my friends, my parents, even my baby. But my relationship with God has been so different. When I've prayed, I've felt nothing. When I read Scripture, the lines blur. It felt like the harder I tried, the farther away God felt. This one is probably the hardest to admit. Even writing this is a bit scary. Telling your husband that you're not really sure you trust God right now (and he's the music pastor at a church) is a little scary. I have had to FIGHT for this! Protecting my heart has been crucial, and it can often be a daily struggle. 

5) Relationships became hard work - It has felt like every ounce of energy i've had has been needed for just taking care of my son, my husband, keeping up with work, and then maybe keeping my head on straight. I'm naturally an introvert, so it is often easier for me to isolate myself and become a hermit! When it was just me, I avoided people. I took forever to respond to emails and texts, skirted out of get togethers other than the mandatory ones, and only kept things surface level. I told myself that nobody wants to hear how miserable my life is. It's easier to bury it down and not let anyone know. 

A few months ago, I finally shared a little bit about what was going on with a few ladies. Did any of them have the answer that was the "cure" for the state of my life? No! But did it help to just get it out and share it? Yes! It made it real! They were able to empathize with me, ask me meaningful questions about why and when I started feeling this way, and help move me on the path of feeling real again. 

Like I mentioned above, I don't have it all figured out. Life is still hard, but I'm sure you know that. I know that I'm not the first to feel this way, and I know it won't be the last time in my life that I feel this way. But admitting it and seeking wisdom and support was absolutely necessary to move on.

I've also learned that my husband is amazing and supportive, and my son is, although a challenge, one of the ways I see God in the everyday. He surely did not abandon me when this beautiful boy is smiling back at me or sleeping in my arms! 

So, here's to new beginnings. To more frequent blog posts in the future. And most importantly, permission to be real, honest, and accepting that real life is not always pretty! 

Now on to yummy looking pictures of delicious food! 


Chocolate Mint Patties (adapted from momontimeout.com)

Ingredients: 
1/3 cup light corn syrup
5 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 tsp. mint extract
1/2 tsp salt
green food coloring
4 cups powdered sugar
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate

Preparation: 
1. Combine the corn syrup, softened butter, mint extract, salt and a few drops of green food coloring in a small bowl. Stir until well combined. 

2. Stir in the powdered sugar one cup at a time until mixture becomes stiff and difficult to stir. 

3. Add a bit more of the powdered sugar, and mix, using your hands (or the bread dough attachment on a stand mixer), adding additional powdered sugar as necessary until the dough is a consistency that no longer sticks to your hands. 

4. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten the balls with the bottom of a cup to make small discs. 

5. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30-second intervals until fully melted. 

6. Dip the candies into the melted chocolate using two forks and tap on the edge to release any extra chocolate. 

7. Place back on the parchment paper and place in refrigerator until the chocolate is set. 




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I'm Back

>> Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Introducing: 

 

Luke Levi Jackson
12.28.12
10lbs 4oz   22in

If you know/follow me on Facebook, than you've long seen this introduction, and know that we've been pretty busy over here. 


And, I know... I know... It's been a very long time since I've blogged. Were you starting to think I'd given up on the blog altogether? 

I have to admit - the thought did cross my mind about just giving it up. As much as I love this blog, I've said so many times before that it's only for the enjoyment of doing it, and if it's too much or too stressful to post, than I will never post just to post. So, that is the reason I have not done anything for the blog in almost 5 months. 

      

As you can imagine, I've kind of had my hands full! :) This little guy has been keeping me busy and giving me a run for my money! Don't get me wrong, I LOVE this little munch, but motherhood has been a totally different journey than anything I've ever expected. 

I'm not sure that really anyone can know what to expect. As much as you think you do, as much as you absolutely plan for the lack of sleep, crying, and overwhelming feeling of being worried 100% of the time, there really is nothing that can prepare you for what it's like. It probably doesn't help that our little baby has given us a challenge from the beginning! :) 

He was 11 days overdue, so from the start, he has wanted to do things in his own timing. About 12 hours after birth, we realized that he was having difficulty breathing, so we spent an incredibly scary 5 days in the NICU. 

  

We are so enjoying having Luke into our lives. He has such personality (as you can see in these pictures). He loves to laugh (and hates to sleep! :)), enjoys discovering new things... has already figured out how to roll over and get his feet into his mouth, and just enjoys life! We are so blessed by him, and cannot believe he's already four months old! 

 

Once we came home, about 2 weeks after his birth, we started to have major issues with eating. This is really still quite an issue for us. Luke does not like to eat. We've tried the gamut of solutions to try to figure out what is going on - I've tried no dairy, thought it was reflux, tried adjusting his schedule, tried bottle feeding only, tried nursing only, tried every position imaginable for nursing, saw a lactation consultant, tried probiotics... unfortunately, nothing seems to be working. Hopefully, one day soon we'll figure out what is going on. He certainly did not inherit his lack of desire to eat gene from me! :) 

During this time, I eliminated dairy from my diet for a little over 2 months to see if that was causing the issue and rule out a lactose intolerance. Of course, my sweet tooth was having a hay day with that one. So I had to find something I could eat that satisfied my sweet tooth while not adding any lactose. (P.S. FYI oreo cookies are dairy free!!!)

 

This recipe calls for coconut oil instead of butter and you can hardly tell there is butter missing. Coconut oil is great for hair/skin as well, and you can find it at Target. It's really creamy and great. My favorite thing to do with it by far is to mix in a little bit of sugar with a spoonful of it and use it as an all natural lip scrub! 

You'll have to give these cookies a try - they are really packed full of flavor and the consistency is great! 

 

Toasted Coconut Oatmeal Cookies (Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod)

Ingredients:
2 3/4 cups Gold Medal all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup coconut oil (measured solid), melted and slightly cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut, lightly toasted for approximately 3-4 min in oven
1 cup quick oats


Preparation: 
1. Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. 

2. In a large bowl, prepare dry ingredients by mixing together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 

 

3. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer mix together the sugar, coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla until creamed together and fluffy. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until fully incorporated. Stir in oatmeal and toasted coconut flakes. 

 
 

4. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet and press cookie down slightly with the back of the spoon in the center. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are very lightly browned and set. Allow them to cool slightly before transferring to a wire cooling rack and cooling completely. 












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Peppermint Bark

>> Thursday, December 13, 2012


I love to make Christmas treats. I look at recipes all year long in anticipation of which ones I'll make each year. Part of the joy of making all these treats is to give it away! One of my favorite things to do is to make gift baskets of homemade treats to give to friends, neighbors, and maybe keep a bit for myself too! 

This year, I'm going a little more low key since Baby Jackson is due any day now, and I want to make a few things in advance that will store for a bit, especially since some of these gift baskets this year will be going to the nurses at the hospital who will be helping me out - God Bless em! :) 


I made the traditional peppermint bark as one of the treats this year. It's so easy, there's no excuse to buy the store bought kind. And considering, with the cost being about $7.00 for an entire batch that can split into multiple servings - it's super affordable - way cheaper than the store bought stuff. And I can guarantee what kind of chocolate is in it - I went for the good stuff since the chocolate is the main ingredient. My favorite is Guittard chocolate. I know I've mentioned it on here before, and I think it's only available in California, but it's AMAZING, and totally worth it - even if you have to order it! :) 


Homemade Peppermint Bark - by Me


Ingredients: 
12 oz Guittard (or other high quality) semi sweet chocolate chips
12 oz Guittard or Ghiradelli white chocolate chips
1 Tbs. vegetable oil (only if needed)
approximately 12 mini candy canes or 6 regular ones

Preparation: 
Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper or silpat. 

In a microwave safe bowl, place semisweet chocolate chips and microwave in 35-45 second increments, stirring after each heating until chocolate is completely melted. Pour and spread chocolate into prepared 9x13" pan. Place in freezer for approximately 20 minutes. 

While the chocolate is chilling, place candy canes in a ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin or glass. 

When there is a few minutes left for the semisweet chocolate, melt the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments until smooth. If chocolate is not completely smooth, add 1 TBS vegetable oil until all smooth. Add about 1/4 of the candy cane mixture into the white chocolate and spread quickly onto chilled semisweet chocolate layer. Sprinkle the rest of the candy canes onto the top of the white chocolate and chill in freezer for an additional 20 minutes. 


Take out of freezer and turn over on cutting board. Use a knife or rolling pin and pound gently to break into pieces. Enjoy. 









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