Wednesday, December 19, 2012

There are some things money can't buy, for everything else? There's oatmeal.

I don't know how you are, but I typically find that healthy treats end up being much more unhealthy than the desserts with no redeeming qualities.  If it has something like flax seed or oatmeal, it is easily justified in my as a health food and I finish half a batch by myself.  Where as if I consume one bite of some chocolate-y butter-y concoction results in an immediate trip to the gym and salads for the following 3 meals.  I feel no guilt in downing mass quantities of my dessert when guised as healthy with a little oatmeal to counteract the butter and sugar that still remain in great quantity. 

So with the cookies I made, while oatmeal was a part of the equation, so were 2 cups of butter and 4 cups of sugar.  This is not something that I can justify in good conscience as a health food, but I sure do trick my mind into believing it is so. So I hereby claim these delightful pumpkin oatmeal cookies no exception to the trickery.  You too can claim them as a health food as I do, just don't ask for a doctor's opinion or a dietitians- they will disagree...

Besides the fact that these cookies were oh-so-healthy (kinda-sorta) they were the first Christmas cookie of the season.  Magic finally began!  Usually this process starts a lot earlier, but I was busy celebrating a pretty stellar union of my high school best friend to her man, so cookie creation was delayed. 

Since these cookies were the first of the season, I decided consumption was necessary.  I had to try one or six...  (I must admit I did enjoy these a lot.)  I justified it by the oatmeal and ignored all of the other not-so-healthy ingredients.  I pretended like I didn't add as much butter and sugar as I really had and clung to that oatmeal-is-an-ingredient-so-it's-healthy for dear life.  The oatmeal was my golden ticket to a delightfully sweet Christmas treat.  The cookie may be chalk-full of butter and sugar but it was also full of oatmeal.  The oatmeal allowed me to feel okay about all of the not-so-diet-conscious counterparts that existed in the recipe.  I could have admited that it is not a healthy cookie if I really studied the ratio of healthy to non-healthy ingredients, but sometimes you have just got to claim that oatmeal and believe in the end that health will prevail.

I feel this is kind of true about life.  Events of late, the shootings, wars, kidnappings and all of those other unexplainable, irredeemable events being splashed around the news, have made it hard to have faith in our world.    I am fairly certain this saying will never be adopted by anyone, but I say in these situations that you have got to cling to the oatmeal.  It is easy to remember the destructive things. The things that ruin us and make us struggle to achieve our end goal.  In the midst of many gut-wrenching awful things that are happening every day, I want to challenge us to seek the little glimmers of hope fighting their way to the top.  There may be a whole lot of broken things about our society, but there is still good.  Don't believe me? Kids at our school just collected over 1500 cans to go to our local food bank.  Our students are running at recess to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Sandy and one student decided to give her whole 20 dollars of savings to help our cause.  In our title-1 school, companies have come together to make sure that 40 of our  families have a fancy dinner and presents to give their children for the holidays.  A third grade class collected a big box full of pajamas to send to the families affected by the hurricane. This is just in one school. One small community. And this is not an exception.  Instead of dwelling on the tragic, let's keep pouring our energy into these endeavors and encourage those who are trying to bring light to dark places.  They are all around us and especially in this holiday season.  Let's gather together and encourage our children to walk in these ways.  Sometimes the smallest of voices can be heard the clearest and their songs for justice can sound the sweetest.  Show them the path to a brighter tomorrow.  Take hope in their efforts and remember the words of Frederick Douglas, "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."  Mixed in with all the junk, there is still oatmeal!  There is still light! There is still hope!

"Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it." Proverbs 22:6

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's like 3.141592653589793 only delicious.

I am really curious about who came up with the saying "it's as easy as pie." Baking a pie is intimidating.  The dough must be the perfect mixture to ensure a light and flaky texture. Not too dry.  Not too moist. You must puncture the bottom to ensure a lack of bubbling, fold the crust in a perfect sort of way, cross your fingers that the crust doesn't burn and that the middle cooks through.  Yeah "easy as pie?" is hard.  Playing the pie game to make 11 pies to split between two households Thanksgivings? Hard.  Limiting yourself to only a few kinds of pies rather than experimenting with each separate pie? Double hard.  Keeping the integrity and deliciousness of pies 10 and 11 after making pies for so long.  Triple hard.  Maybe the "easy as pie" piece comes from eating them.  They certainly are easier to consume than other things.  The steps to eat a pie are simple: 1. Serve a slice on a plate. 2. Cover the entire surface of the pie with whipped cream. 3. Eat the whipped cream off the top.  4. Cover with more whipped cream because your pie is now naked again.  5.  Eat pie.  Yeah that's pretty easy and it works on any pie.

Pecan pie? Yup.

Pumpkin pie? Yup.

Mincemeat pie? Yup.

They all follow the same steps for consumption.  Easy as pie. 

Well, thankfully pie season is short lived and so my baking anxiety can remain low.  Thanksgiving is quickly bypassed by Christmas and masses of cookies will roll in and out of my kitchen.  I would like to say that I am already well into my baking season (being that it is the 11th of December), but a flooded kitchen can cramp a girl's style.  I have even prepped with 5 pounds of butter that are currently chillin in my fridge, but they have remained untouched as I have awaited the kitchen to be returned to it's usable state. But fear not.  I report that as of today I deem it usable and I plan on using every spare second at home baking up a storm.  I will forget all of the store-bought items I had to bring to events in the mean time.  The past is the past today is the present, and this present will be all home-made.  I cannot WAIT!
So, now that I have mentioned that I will be baking masses of cookies, my future cookies are currently in search of homes.  They will best be used in homes of people who do not guilt me for making them gain 10 pounds or do and show up to my Zumba fitness classes.  I will be accepting applications from now until Christmas.  You are in charge of crafting the application, as I will be creating masses of sweet treats and too busy to actually write one.  But there you go.  Now you have your chance to stake a claim. 
I would like to make a plea for my cause.  Taking my cookies has now become your necessity because I cannot eat them all.  They have been pinned to my pinboard therefore they cannot go unbaked.  I cannot consume them all because I am only one person and if I did then I would lose all of my credibility as a Zumba instructor.  Can you imagine a fitness instructor gaining all kinds of weight and claiming that their program was effective?  Yeah...not going to convince a whole lot of people.  But YOU on the other hand could eat them, then come to my Zumba fitness class and be an incredible success story and get all the fame and glory.  It is a win-win for all involved.  So, go ahead, say you want some. They will come your way. You will enjoy.  I will enjoy you enjoying.  Life will be good.  One first world problem will have been resolved. You will have helped me resolve mine, now if we could only solve the rest...
So. many. problems. 
Problems. Whether big or small.  First world or truly tragic.  Prime baking season (aka Christmas) is the same prime season for heightened awareness of the things we lack both materially and relationally.  Feelings of sadness, anger, or loneliness are often amplified.  You might be in the midst of it, or you might be in a season of blessing.  As we enter this special but often challenging season a greater awareness of our current state.  Let us remember especially during this time to love our neighbor and to be acutely aware of their struggles and needs.  If a cookie tray of mine comes your way, know that at least one of those cookies is reserved for sharing.  Never were we promised a life void of struggles but we were promised an ever-present God in time of need and we were challenged as the body of Christ to love our neighbor and to take care of the widows and orphans.  So, tis the season!  Let's spread some love.
"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." James 1:27 

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Dash of Magic

If you bake around people with frequency, you will know that there are many who are the precise, use measuring cups for everything, level all of the ingredients perfectly and mix with such exactness.  I? Am not that.  I start out usually very well with a wonderfully exact amount of butter and sugar but then you get to all of the delicious parts like cinnamon and a 1 tsp often results in dumping a 1/4 cup.  I finish by never setting timers and sensing the doneness of my baked treat with other techniques like putting my ear to the ground like listening to the rumbling of the buffalo on the ground, figure 8 balls or reading my palm to tell me that I can in fact extract it from the oven. Ok, maybe I exaggerated a bit, but I really don't ever set the timer. It often frustrates those I bake with who are insistent that timers are necessary for successful baking.  If we are being honest, it surprises me that someone as type-AAA as me even allows for such a lackadaisical approach to baking. But it happens.  In my defense, Pie in the Sky (which is my baking bible), claims that all high altitude baking requires a doubled portion of aromatics.  We'll just say that I do it for that reason...  The book doesn't say anything about my lack of timer-use but I will just say that I have a strong spidey sense and I know when something is done.
I also have a knack for knowing when something needs baked into deliciousness.  This snickerdoodle brownie?  Necessary.  

You will agree with me shortly when you learn that this was for Colorado's first snow day of the year.  It was a depressing snow day (as in it barely eeked passed a sleet to be called a snow day) but I'll count it.  I tried to aid in the snow making process by cutting out paper snowflakes to add to the snowflake count.  I made 18.  That's 18 snowflakes closer to a legitamate snow day.  I am fairly certain that made all the difference.  So 18 paper snowflakes later, a snow day it was named.
These snickerdoodle brownies on a snowy day were the recipe for perfection.  Some things just go together that way.  Adding a dash of snow with a pinch of delicious and baking it all into magic is a pretty spectacular thing.  The most beautiful piece is its unplanned nature.  In the midst of my over-planned, over-pinned life sprung a sporadic special snow day creation. 
Lately I have been learning a lot about the treasures to be found in the unplanned.  A whirlwind of events have resulted in God unveiling better dreams for myself than I even knew I could attain.  I didn't script out this part of my life but it is proving to be far greater then I could have presribed for myself.  God's plan is sweet like that.  If life was taken like baking, with precise measurements hoping for the picturesque final product created in exact replication of someone else's perfect treat, then moments like this would not come. I am challenging you as the Christmas baking season is near, to go a little wild and not follow a recipe exactly as they tell you to.  Add an extra dash of something and see what kind of creation occurs.  Do the same in one of those carefully packed days leading up to Christmas and add a splash of magic and memories with those you love each day.  If everything in life is so scripted and exact as following a recipe, then one might never experience the possibility of something greater.  God's plans are often thwarted when we try to overplan for ourselves. 

"And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn

Friday, November 9, 2012

Butter needs its own talk show.

When someone says they are a baker, the term is vague.  Are you the grab a box-mix-and-add-some-water-call-it-good-and-shove-it-in-the-oven kind of baker?  Are you the most-people-don't-even-know-how-to-pronounce-the-names-of-half-the-ingredients-that-are-in-here kind of baker? Or in between?  There is a wealth of recipes for all kinds but it always blows my mind when a devoured recipe I made has a measly six ingredients and I don't even have to bring out the blow torch to get ooo's and aaahhh's.  A well trained or even fairly well trained monkey could have made this brownie pudding.  It was mixed, baked, a la mode-ed and BAM! Masterpiece.

I mostly credit the butter.  For some reason butter raises the status of about any kitchen project.  It cures blandness, dryness, burnt-ness, you could probably spread it on that annoying person in your life and it might make them a little more tolerable too.  I would even argue that these hipsters who keep slapping bird decals on everything they own should do sticks of butter decals instead.  Instant coolness guaranteed. If Paula Dean endorses it (and she does) and everybody has a little soft spot in their heart for that southern belle (which most do) then butter must be necessary to life.
Life needs more butter.  Seriously. Don't you just wish sometimes getting through a challenging season was as simple as lathering it in something so rich and creamy and sliding out of it with ease?  I do.  But then I start to think: self?  To what benefit is this?  Take for example my brownie pudding.  It was easy.  It was divine.  But I have to count every stupid calorie in that and I gained no culinary skillz.  In case you didn't know, my calorie rules are as such:  Calories don't count if you are celebrating (because they are honorary calories), baking at high altitude (because the calories all float away), broken cookies (because all of the calories escape during the break), or before it is baked (because the chemical reaction only adds the calories post baking).  This recipe fits none of those rules.  Reason 1: It is an everyday dessert not the happy birthday kind. Reason 2: It is not a high altitude recipe. Reason 3:It is too gooey to break and have calories escape.  Reason 4: It only tastes good post baking.  Its deliciousness was temporary and it must follow the rule once-on-the-lips-forever-on-the-hips rule. The steps to follow were rudimentary and I learned nothing new for my future baking plans. Based on these factors, there is no long-term benefit to this dessert. At the end of the day, I suppose the real benefit comes from going through the hard stuff.  It may not always be easy but the reward is much greater.  As I reflect on a season of hardship and am entering into this new season of blessing, I am reminded of the steps I've had to take to get here and the transformation of my character as a result.  While ease is good, I think I'll always choose the character.
"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3-4

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Drop a subtle hint, and if that doesn't work? Try a brick on the toe.

My life is awkward.  This is not a new realization nor is it one that plans to go away soon but as I reflect on on-goings that have occurred throughout any given day, many times all I can say is, huh.  We already know example 1: drummer boy (as mentioned in the previous post).  Most recent example? The dad.  And yes that is his nickname.  The dad.  It all started few weeks ago when a student from a neighboring class began asking me if I was married.  I laughed (because that is how I respond to the fact that my perfectly mapped-out-since-childhood plan has not come even close to being my current reality) and continued on my way.  The girl was persistent.  Every day as I past her she would ask, "Ms. A., are you married?"  Finally one day I answered her question, "No, I am not." and sighed.  The very next day as I passed her again (thinking we had long since moved passed the are-you-married question, she told me, "Ms. A.! My dad thinks your pretty."  I walked by and said nothing.  Sometimes the things you don't acknowledge you never have to deal with, right? Wrong.  The next day she reminded me the exact. same. thing.  Awkward.  Not only that but her teacher that very  day was reading a fairy tale and at the end when they lived happily ever after, she shouted, "Like my dad and Ms. A!" Awkward. As the day was ending, she ran up to tell me that her dad was going to ask me out to dinner that weekend.  Awkward. Sure enough as I was on the street, stop sign in the air at crosswalk duty, she raced up with a note from her dad and his number.  Awkward. But it doesn't stop there. On a scale of 1 to awkward, this story is really currently only about a 9, not exceedingly awkward.  It did not reach the complete awkward stage until yesterday when she reported that her dad was going to bring me flowers.  Awk.ward. Now you need to know that I have never actually even spoken a word to her dad.  I have just received a note and many a smile and a wave from the distance and reports from the student.  I do not know whether these alleged flowers will ever arrive to my classroom but so far her new flashes have been correct, so I am fearful.  Fearful of a single dad who is smittened with a teacher at his daughter's school.  As the school bell rings each day, I now stall in my classroom for as long as possible before casually making my way to the door to dismiss my kiddos wishing I had 360 vision to be on my guard at all times.  I dread the day when those flowers show up and I have to tell him that this is not a good life choice.  I would rather hide or make a t-shirt that says, "go away" or drop a million subtle hints than say 3 frank sentences to end this massive attack of awkward. 

I would really like to excel at subtle hints, the art of letting people know what you think or feel without ever actually telling them anything.  It is something that would be great to master but it does not always seem to be as effective as anticipated.  Sometimes I wish that people would read between the lines so I could avoid that uncomfortable conversation of telling them that they smell like they may have skipped a day or twenty of showering or that they have a piece of spinach the size of Texas between their teeth.

One of the worst things is when subtle hints have to occur with food. Those moments when you are a guest at some one's house and what they have prepared looks repulsive and you don't want to even touch it.  If we are being honest, I fear that many days of my life because almost every thing I bake is only baked once.  I've never baked it before and I might not ever bake it again because I'm on to the next experiment.  Eating my treats comes with a risk that it is not good.  As people take that first bite into something I bake, I hold my breath and my whole body tenses as I watch them react to their first bite.  These red velvet brownies with cream cheese drizzle were amongst one of my highest feared desserts I've made.  First, it was bright red.  Second, it did the high altitude puff and cave trick. Third, it did not come out in perfectly immaculate even squares.  This was not promising.  I brought it to my friend's house for meatless Monday and I was half ready to toss it, kidnap them all and take them to Yogurtland for frozen yogurt instead and pretend that the dog ate the brownies off our kitchen table or they were abducted by aliens to be tested for scientific purposes.  In the end though I brought it, scooped it into the ramekins (dishes whose main purpose is to make even Twinkies look gourmet when placed inside) and we dug in.  I watched their facial expressions and decided their thoughts.  I sighed a big sigh of relief as they scarfed their brownies and giggled as my friend who joined us later in the night, bit into his portion as we were discussing a pretty heavy topic of a local shooting that had happened nearby and his face of deep concern melted into a grin in 3 seconds flat. 

Obviously my fears were not supported by evidence and this was yet another win for team sugar.  No subtle hints were needed to let me know their opinion about this baked creation (although I am sure that they would all be in favor of some magical tweaks to the recipe that would make it sugar-free, fat-free, calorie-free).  The verdict was? Delicious.  To the core.  (Although I am not going to share the recipe because of the aforementioned puff-and-cave-crisis that drives me to perfect this recipe before revealing.) I think I'll just have to make it again and make it EVEN MORE wipe-the-drool-off-your-face fantastic than it already is. Don't be alarmed if you are a victim in my next attempt and I am fixated on your face as you enjoy it.  I'm just searching for those subtle hints.  What you really think about my creation? I hope your face tells it all.  I can handle a silent nose scrunch much better than a, "Kirsten thanks for your repulsive baked good. I am going to vomit now." I'll take the subtle hint instead please.

About the only place I demand great clarity is in things of the Lord.  His steps, His plan, His purpose for my life, who He is, and what He's all about.  Luckily, God is a God of purpose.  He makes His presence known in beautiful ways.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.  In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth." Psalm 19:1-6

Monday, October 15, 2012

I lost my muse. Baked it into one of my cakes.

It has been a MONTH since I have put anything on my blog.  It's not that baking hasn't occurred, it has.  It's not that it hasn't been delicious, it has but I momentarily lost my muse. In case you didn't know, muses are kind of a crucial element to all things of passion.  The pursuit of a greater purposes are often driven by the presence of one such muse.  Just ask my friend who I fondly refer to as drummer boy.  Upon approaching me on the dance floor at my usual Sunday salsa spot he decidedly made me his muse and was inspired to spin me, flip me and even drum on my stomach and go into some whimsical pickup line about me being the drum and he the drummer, being the lyrics to his song blah blah blah *vomit*. Yeah it happened.  Inspiration sparked this relentless pursuit and quasi stalking for weeks on end all under the guise of "you're my muse." 
So... muse? Necessary.  My muse? Missing. Until this very delightful cake with a whole in the middle (that I couldn't bake without quoting a million lines from My Big Fat Greek Wedding) came into my life

Let's talk about the magic that happens when you combine chocolate and pumpkin into a fantastically moist and marbled creation and add 3 times the spices the recipe calls for and cover with a little bit of cream cheese glaze and a whole lot of love.  I would like to propose this very recipe as one of the top ten reasons autumn is the best season, right along there with the ability to wear scarves and boots (boots of course being reasons 1,2, AND 3 because everybody should enjoy one or five good pairs of boots).  Meet my muse: Chocolate-Pumpkin Bundt Cake. This little glory re-lit the dying flame in my heart and inspired a visit back to my blog.

So, friends? Finally, I'm back and I'm planning my next adventure.  I aim to spending many nights covered with flour and turning our kitchen inside out for hours at a time to build great creations at club350degrees. I have so many ideas for future projects, I am fairly certain brain explosion is a likely occurrence.  Inner spontaneous combustion. Hey, you never know, it could happen!

In the recent days, my passion has slowly began to build momentum, and I cannot deny that it feels good to be getting back to my overachieving-doing-5-people's-worth-of-stuff-in-one-day way of being.  There's a comfort in the busy for me.  I know y'all are probably reading this and thinking, um...Kirsten? When you wrote this I had already been asleep for hours, but I just haven't ever been the plop-on-the-couch-and-veg type. I've been more the go-to-bed-at-12-or-1-wake-up-at-6-complain-I'm-tired-guzzle-liters-of-caffeinated-products-repeat-type.

The caveat to my energizer bunny pace of life is that often there are not near enough hours in the day to accomplish all that I want out of life. So there comes a point when a reality check is necessary.  So many activities can fill a day. So many days fill a year. Years fill a life. These activities, then, demand a purpose, to be pursued intentionally and with great expectation.  This reality does not require a scaling back or muting of me but it makes necessary the careful selection of what fills my life. Each step taken, each decision made with boldness unveils the path set before me.  I am by no means claiming that everyone needs to be consuming masses of caffeine and never standing still like me, but I do believe that our life can have great meaning if we pursue our passions relentlessly. For me? For now? I'm gonna serve my God, teach the socks off my kiddos, shake and bake. Readyyyy, go! Yup.

"Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counselors they are established"
Proverbs 15:22

Monday, September 17, 2012

Do I Have Something On My Face?

"Congratulations! You graduated college! So what about getting married? When is that going to happen?"  was a question frequently asked the second I graduated college.  It is the natural progression of events right? It's that cultural, ok-you-are-now-of-age-and-there-should-be-a man-putting-a-ring-on-that-finger thing.  A friend of mine posted this my friends are married tumblr on my wall which sheds light on this situation in a pathetically connectable and comical way the other day.  I loved to hate it. Yes. I am 26 and so far God's plan has not entailed any bling attachment to ring finger.  I could throw a pity party, but I have decided that it will be worth the wait because the man of my dreams will eat my cupcakes with such enjoyment that they will look like my mini friend, Ryan.  She. loved. my. cupcake.
See? Love smeared all over that cute face. So, my new plan is to have a ready pack of cupcakes.  If a man asks for my digits, I will hand him a cupcake, watch him eat it, and if the end result is similar to this picture then I will give my number to them.  If they cannot enjoy my baked goods in such fashion, they are not the man for me.  (Okay, addendum, if they call me my lil croissant like in the Mad TV Can I Have Your Number sketch, it might sway my opinion and I will let them off easy for only enjoying my cupcake rather than smearing it all over their face while devouring every morsel, but otherwise? I am sticking to my guns.) Chocolate+alloverface=youcanhavemynumber. 

This cupcake was just one of those down home kinda cupcakes.  I have the frosting guns and fancy things, but sometimes, a homegrown cupcake just needs a slab of frosting and some love.  Perfection was in the consumption.  The moist light and pure taste of the carrot zucchini chocolate cupcake topped with fudge was a little bit of heaven. I had mine with some frozen yogurt and sweet momma! I died a little.  I was honestly questioning its potential for goodness, because my recent try-to-make-it-healthy-since-my-friends-are-always-yelling-at-me-for-baking-treats-with-a-million-things-that-could-make-you-fat has resulted in a lot of desserts that have N-O-T NOT made me all melty on the inside and more sad than anything.  These however? Not so much.  So. Good. 
I mean, I can do the health thing, like the vegan apple breakfast crisp that I made for my friends for breakfast this morning, but sometimes life needs butter and one or five scoops of ice cream on top of it. And these recipes compel you to avoid that.  I get sad.  Especially since I have a second stomach reserved specifically for ice cream.

As I go about my rabbit eating ways, there has never been an off-limits rules for sweets.  Every day ends will a little sugar in my world and I have no shame in that.  Every spinach leaf and celery stick comes with the promise of future decadence and so I nibble away with glee.  Somehow knowing that pleasure will soon be experienced makes the more laborious tasks bearable (and believe me, if you have ever timed me eating my morning breakfast of carrots and peanut butter it does count as a laborious task).  Today, as a result of this idea of mine, I am challenging the great Forest Gump.  I don't think life is like a box of chocolates.  The sweetness of chocolate doesn't get to be experienced here on Earth.  We are in the rabbit food part of our existence.  Chomping our way through the dating game, our jobs, our kids, our families, our stresses and our small celebrations that don't even surmount to a tenth of the decadence to come.  The world doesn't lend itself to contentment anymore a salad when you are really really really hungry and in search of something more.  The world is also full of temptation to stray and you had better believe that there is a whole bunch of fried chicken and gravy smothered mashed potatoes standing in your way.  But I cling to the promise that heaven will be the 25-step-cheesecake-that-took-3-days-to-make and you had better believe it will be worth every sacrifice made here on Earth.  C.S. Lewis says it well when he says, "Aim at heaven and you will get Earth thrown in, aim at Earth and you will get neither." I can dig that.
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." 1 Corinthians 9:24

Monday, September 3, 2012

Where do zucchinis come from? The zucchini stork of course!

Did you know that some people have enacted a National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day?  It's August 8th.  I would like you to know that if you need a neighbor's porch, you can borrow mine.  I stinkin love zucchini.  This week alone I have gone through approximately 11 cups of zucchini as a result of friend's belated celebration of this holiday.  I am most certainly not complaining.  I have made zucchini brownies, my zucchini flax seed muffins, a palealasgna (fed that one to small children, which I forgot don't eat adulty things like goat cheese... oops) and of course stir fries.  If you were a carnivore and tried to eat me, that is probably what I would taste like.  I'm sure I have little mini zucchinis growing in my stomach an all that jazz too. 
As the zucchinis begin pouring into my kitchen (which I hope they continue to do because I am a very good neighbor) I am starting to enjoy the creative side of zucchini.  There is so much more to a zucchini then meets the eye.  When I came across a recipe for whole wheat zucchini cookies, I said to myself, "Duh, these soooo need to be in your mouth."  Around that same time, I purchased a vanilla gelato. The next step was an obvious one.  What does one do with a whole wheat zucchini cookie recipe and vanilla gelato? Um, make an Italian ice cream sandwich the size of your face.  Hellooooooo.  So I did.  Then I had friends over for dinner and they helped me eat the monster ice cream sandwich.

It was a truly glorious thing.

Being that it was the size of my face and covered the whole platter, it would have been an Olympic event trying to consume it all myself.  Not saying I couldn't do it, but I am saying that my pants may or may not have buttoned the next day.  A slice was a better life choice. 
Are you wondering how it was?  Well, one of the kiddos said as she was chowing down on her slice that I was going to be famous for this.  It was yummy but I would have to argue that I think I am more likely to be famous for one of my so-much-chocolate-it-blows-your-mind kinda recipes. We'll see...
I've never even really desired to be famous but today as we were walking around the Taste of Colorado and I was oogling over the food trucks I thought an awful lot about that.  To be famous for the best ___ in town, with everybody curling around the block just to have a plate of your no-body-makes-them-this-good-except-my-mama food.  That would be the life.  Some day? After kids decide I am no longer hip enough to make their brains explode with knowledge, I believe I will open up one.  Now comes the task of picking what I want to be known for...  Not an easy task. Food truck legacy is not a matter to be taken likely. Brownies? Cheesecake? Veggie fare?
In all reality though, any legacy left behind is not a flippant choice.  How we make our mark matters.  Having the best brownies in town does not even begin to offer depth to the legacy I wish to leave behind.  From a top secret recipe sold from a food truck, to the Zumba certification training I am having on Friday (*gulp*) I choose to walk with purpose.  Each action writing the legacy I get to leave behind.  So yes, fame can come, but may the fame acquired in my life be solely to point to the Famous One as I seek His heart with great intention. THAT'S what I'm living for. (Although I don't mind that you find my brownies to be the bombdiggity.  I'll bake them for you always and forever.)
"Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth." Hosea 6:3


Sunday, July 29, 2012

I am fine waiting as long as I don't have to wait.

Cheesecake is arguably one of the most decadent things that has ever past these lips.  I. Love. Cheesecake.  The best part about it is that the cheesecake family is quite large.  The Cheesecake factory has two entire pages of flavors to try and they don’t even make every kind that exists.  So, I’ve got to know, what’s your favorite kind? Ready, go! Mine is all of them. Cheesecakes are creamy and sweet and after I finish a cheesecake-y treat, you will most likely find me melted on the floor.  The only way to revive me is probably more cheesecake, but then I will probably just melt on the floor yet again.  It’s a vicious cycle. Cheesecake, mouth, melt, floor, cheesecake, mouth, melt, floor, cheesecake… you get the idea.  So, I got the opportunity this week to have a little mini-visit up to camp to create some treats for the counselors to celebrate their last week of camp.  Treaty Tuesday fell on one of the days I was up there, so naturally I had to play it up big.  Red velvet cheesecake cupcakes with fresh whipped cream and chocolate garnishing were the natural choice.  I could have just left it at the red velvet cheesecake, but I had all last summer to fatten up the counselors with my baked goods and this year I had to do a summers work in three days.  This is a serious undertaking.  Fresh whipped cream was necessary.  Also, I had been watching YouTube videos about how to make chocolate garnishings (because that is a totally normal past time, right?) and knew that these cheesecakes would not be complete without them.
They turned out rockin’ sweet. See? All of the different garnishings were a result of me learning how to control the chocolate. 

The melted chocolate was telling me what shapes it wanted to make at first but then I finally learned to control it and make shapes.  I made a flower.  Precious, right? Thought so.

Cheesecake cupcakes were a great choice not just because of its deliciousness but because they take way less time and patience than a normal cheesecake baked in a spring-form pan.  A normal cheesecake is placed in a water bath, baked for like an hour, then the oven is turned off and no one is allowed to even think about opening the oven for at least 8 hours unless they want the wrath of me (which usually is not much of a wrath at all unless you open my oven while I am baking a cheesecake), the cheesecake is then left at room temperature, then placed in the fridge to cool.  That is a recipe demanding patience if I ever saw one.  Cheesecake cupcakes? Done in 20 minutes, left a room temperature for 20, then put in the fridge.  The time from oven to mouth is 4 hours.  Much faster. 
Sometimes I wish life had a cupcake version.  A way that you could achieve the end result by skipping a bunch of steps and not having to wait for life’s sweetest moments.  I am a dreamer.  I have a list of things I long to accomplish and if we are being honest, I would rather them be sooner than later.  I feel grateful about where God has brought me thus far and all that by His grace I have been allowed to achieve but I know that He has more in store.  I want to speed it up and get to that indulgent treat waiting for me but that is not His timing.  The process of getting to that point will require patience and refining of my character.  If my life is like this cheesecake, trying to accomplish all of my aspirations right here and right now would be like putting the cheesecake straight from the oven to the fridge.  The cheesecakes crack from the rapid cooling.  They have not undergone the process needed to create the proper conditions for a smooth cheesecake and they will not reach their utmost potential.  The waiting is essential. 
So here I am.  At the waiting place.  Here I know I am not alone.  Dr. Seuss talked of this place. “The waiting place… for people just waiting.  Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or a No or waiting for their hair to grow.  Everyone is just waiting.” But oh the places I’ll go.  God has great plans, of this I am sure.  So I’ll wait.
“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” Psalm 27:14

Monday, July 23, 2012

I wish truffles grew on truffula trees because then you could call them a fruit.

It would be great if even the most stressful life events could compel you to eat broccoli and spinach, but the reality is that some days just require a few dozen cookies.  We all have our go-to comfort foods.  I personally enjoy a frozen tub of Cool Whip with a spoon and just digging on in.  I choose to ignore all of the unnatural things that are in that tub and just think about the delicious creamy taste.  My other go-to comfort snack is Stauffer's Animal Crackers.  No, not the Mother's Frosted Animal Cookies that will be used to complete the following treat but the straight up animal crackers.  So. good.  The amount I could eat in one sitting is a little frightening.  They are high on my list of foods that are not allowed into my grocery cart because I am well aware that they are not safe in my house.  On a night last week however, they became necessary, which brought me to the following conversation with my best friend.  She was disappointed that I didn't go for the frosted animal cookies or a whole bag of Oreos or at least dipping the animal crackers in frosting.  Apparently my emo-eating selection is weak.  While I stood firmly by my comfort food selection, it did spark my interest into exactly what the beauty behind the frosted cookies was.  In my quest, I discovered this recipe for circus animal cookie truffles.  I of course had to make them.  What my biffie wants, my biffie gets.

These things were R-I-C-H rich.  It made me acknowledge the fact that frosted animal cookies would be a good choice for a binge-fest, but the reality is that they are so sweet, you just cannot eat them in such a great quantity.  I could not eat a full one before deciding I had had enough making this a poor choice.  I'll stick to my Cool Whip thank you very much!  One bite of an overly sweet truffle takes about 30 seconds maximum to eat and a pity party usually takes at least 29 and a half minutes longer than that.  With nothing to munch on, the pity party just might get awkward and awkward never did anybody any good.

So, for you and your next pity party you throw for yourself, you might consider these truffles.  If you can handle insane sweet...  I cannot.  For those who are weak like me, I am sure the local grocery store will have an ample supply of whatever food you shall be comforted by (although I might judge you a little if you say yours is Cheese Whiz or Twinkies).  Better yet? Forgo the food all together and seek some God-filled, zero calorie comfort.  The beauty about running to God in these moments is that far more comfort is achieved and you can still button those jeans.  He's got you and He gets you.  He gets you in your joy and pain, in your peace and worry, in your contentment and in your longing.  Now that's comfort.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Its healthy, therefore I can eat 500, right?

I. love. muffins.  There is nothing better than a fresh out-of-the-oven-melt-in-your-mouth muffin.  The trouble is that they are usual so delicious because they have so many calories in them.  These aren't the kind of calories you can justify either.  They usually come from butter and sugar and eggs.  Sigh.  Now why can't celery stalks melt in your mouth like muffins do?  I'm going to figure out a way to make that happen someday, but until then I guess I will just take a recipe and healthify it as much as I know how. 

So, here we have it:

Zucchini Flax Muffins

3 cups of grated zucchini
1/2 cups of applesauce
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt
3 teaspoons of vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 teaspoons (heaping) of cinnamon
3 cups of whole wheat flour
3/4 cups ground flax seed

1. Mix together the zucchini, applesauce, sugar, yogurt and vanilla. 
2. Add the baking soda, cinnamon, flour and flax seed.
3. Realize, oh heck yes! this recipe has no raw egg.
4. Make sure to have a spoon ready to lick the bowl after it has been spooned into a muffin tin.
5. Fill 2 greased muffin tins 3/4 full.
6. Place in oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees.
7. Bake for about 20 minutes.
8. Lick the bowl.  No raw egg. Remember?
9. Sigh.

Let me tell you.  These were amazing.  Now just because they are healthy, it does not mean you get to eat all 24 in one sitting, although you might want to.  Yum.

"For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10 

Rain drops are falling on my head.

Among the many adjectives that could be used to describe me, you might find words like overachiever, perfectionist and type-A.  It's my reality.  So naturally, when it rains so hard that it is leaking through your roof and you have no desire to go outside and brave the elements, my first response is not to pop a bag of popcorn and curl up in a blanket to watch a good flick but see how many recently pinned recipes I can try before the rain stops. 

It started innocently enough with two.  I had been dying to try those candied nuts because they add 13 cents worth of ingredients to nuts and decide that that is a perfect reason to make the nuts triple the price and only make them so hot and fresh and delicious at sporting events which I never attend because I am always too busy baking.  I also had an intense desire to make home-made bread to accompany the apricot butter I had made earlier in the week.  It just had to be done.

As it turns out, candied walnuts are easy.  Walnuts, egg whites and a dreamy mixture of sugar and spices that is sure to make you weak at the knees if you happen to walk in and smell it while it is baking.
Now if only pictures could capture smells...

So it was on to the bread.  With the help of my lovely kitchen-aid mixer that I still have to pinch myself for being lucky enough to own, the peasant bread was kneaded in less than five minutes.  Excellent.  Nuts? Covered, making-me-melt-from-the-smell-wafting-out-of-the-oven, 17 minutes left. Bread? On it's first rise. Rain? Still coming down at a rapid rate but luckily no-longer deciding that through my roof is it's best route down.  Time for another recipe or 3...

Next was my first adventure into home made tortillas.  I didn't have a tortillera but I did have a rolling pin so I figured it was time to try.  In true beginner style my first tortillas were cute and round and 3 fit on a pan. I cooked them and quickly realized this is more of a gordita than a tortilla and my sad attempts at a tortilla found their home in my trashcan.  Lesson learned.  Flat means flaaaaaat. 

Luckily I had 15 more balls of dough to work with.  Each one got thinner and rounder and more authentic until I landed the perfect one, tortilla number 15.  Can someone please tell me why you always finally get the hang of something when you are on the very last one?  It never fails.  Then when you want to make them again, the touch is gone.  Its a sad but true fact of life.  I would like to skip ahead to expert status after try number one, please and thank you!

So tortillas were made, I had one tortilla out of the batch to be proud of and now it was time for dinner.  After my project of tortillas I needed some redemption, so I clang to the familiar.  My fool-proof-works-every-time dinner that I am known for is chicken parmesan and spaghetti squash spaghetti.  Aaaaaahhhh I breathed in the success.  Everything coming out exactly as planned is a glorious feeling and one I get with little frequency since I don't often bake the same thing twice. My torturous love of having dinner parties containing 15 brand-new recipes brings my blood pressure to soaring heights, but it is common. 

Five recipes later the rain had stopped.  I sighed.  Relaxation is obviously a foreign concept to me. In the news, the news reporter announced the beginning of monsoon season and ample days of rain to come.  You know my first thought was what I was going to cook next.  The answer to that is probably everything.  Me and the grocery store are going to become quite good friends with all of this rain hanging around.

Sometimes I wonder as I know I should be relaxing why I can't or why I would want to.  Relaxing for me takes more work than staying busy.  Sitting on a couch requires someone to duct tape me there so that I cannot move.  Even at work instead of a chair at my desk, I have an exercise ball so that I can bounce around and stay moving.  Laid-back may never be a word used to describe me but I have learned to embrace my character and all of my quirks that make me who I am.  What becomes the biggest blessing in all of this is those who gather around me who accept this too.  They get my five-hours-of-sleep-3-hours-of-gym-12-recipes-in-the-oven-5-dreams-in-my-head-to-accomplish-tomorrow self.  For them I am grateful and even more grateful for the God who gets me even more, who knows every nook and cranny of who I am up to the number of hairs that exist in my mass of curls that weave every which way on top of my head.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:13-14

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The apricot doesn't fall far from the tree but it might get some distance if a squirrel chucks it.

There is nothing better than a home grown delight.  The usual issue with whatever homegrown treat is harvested is the fact that it is all ready at once and there is almost always way more than anyone ever knows what to do with.  Have this dilemma?  Give them to me.  It's a great solution.  Ask my parents.  They just gave me 20 pounds of apricots from their apricot tree to keep them from the squirrels.  20 pounds.  That was 4 days ago.  Want to know how many currently remain in raw form? 10 little apricots that fit into a bowl.  

It is a good thing I find cutting therapeutic, because a lot of slicing and dicing needed to happen to utilize that many apricots.  A. Lot. Mucho mucho a lot.  With that pesky pit in the middle that was taunting me and reminding me that I couldn't slide the knife all the way through in one smooth motion.  I had to keep reminding myself that the deliciousness in the end would be worth it.

One colander full of 18 cups of apricots later?  It was time to play.

We began with an apricot stir fry sauce.  I am not linking the recipe because after making it, it was bitter and we had to add so much brown sugar just to make it bearable.  Oh well.  Failure happens sometimes. That's why God invented sugar.  It may look all cute and innocent in the mason jar but don't be fooled and don't repeat. 

Next was a chutney.  This is for the refined palette.  It's a pinkie up kinda thing.  It's also a deeeeelicious kinda thing.  Yum Yum Yum!  Again in a mason jar because there is something about a mason jar that makes whatever you put in it 10 times cooler.  This is true for most things, although I don't think it would work for mullets or people who wear socks with sandals (if there were a mason jar big enough then maybe but not likely). 

Fruit salsa.  To dip with a chip or my preferred method: digging in with a honkin' spoon and hoping your bite has plenty of that habanero pepper.  Love me some spice! 

Of course this ode to apricot would not be complete without an apricot butter.  Not butter with diced apricot mixed in (although there are a million recipes for that) but a sweet and savory slow-cooked mass of apricots with cinnamon that will make you melt.  That, my friends, is apricot butter and that, my friends, you must try. 

Finally? An apricot crisp.  They called it a breakfast apricot crisp and put yogurt on top of it.  I argue it to be dessert still. It was sweet.  Really sweet.  But if they are going to give it that title, I might as well eat it for breakfast.  Can someone please make a breakfast ice cream sundae recipe so I can justify that too?

And so ended my apricot adventure.  Or so I thought until I called my mom and said more apricots had just fallen from the tree... Time to research!  Hmmm what to make next...

"For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you." 2 Corinthians 9:10

Oh-oh say can you seeeeeee? This delicious star-spangled cookie in front of me?

Cinco de Mayo.  Celebrating the liberation of... oh wait... it is not.  Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day.  September 16th is.  This is a fact that is missed by many although I am not sure they care to know because it would take away a drinking holiday.  I don't really want to stand in between anyone and their Corona Light, but now you know.  Sorry if I rained on your parade.  This was not always information that I always knew.  In fact, when I went to study abroad in Mexico, I arrived on May 7th. One of the first things I said to my family was that I was sad that I had missed Cinco de Mayo (which literally just means May 5th).  They looked at me with a puzzled, silly-American-Trix-are-for-kids look and asked me why.  I described to them how they celebrated Cinco de Mayo in Denver on Federal and downtown. They laughed at me clarifying it was not Independence Day but the celebration of a won battle in the city of Puebla versus the French and that they celebrated it in Puebla only.  Cool.  Ignorant American moment number one of my trip.  There were many more to come as I explored Mexico, but that one was the first.

As Cinco de Mayo rolled around this year, Pinterest was plastered with Cinco de Mayo treats.  Just about every 3rd pin in the pin market were these Pinata Cookies.  The baker in me wanted to bake them the second I saw them, but my principles told me to wait until the 16th of September to make them. I'm a purist.  But then in the middle of the night two weeks ago, I realized. Waaaaaiiiiiiit a minute.  America has one of those Independence Day celebrations too.  Awesome. Naturally I made pinata cookies for this occasion but not really pinata cookies at all.  Pinata cookie technique meets star-spangled awesome.

The cookie assembly process was an adventure in-and-of itself.  I made the sugar cookie dough in the safety of my own kitchen, Club350degrees, with my Zumbalicious Pandora cranked but then the chilled dough and I took a trip to my girl Danielle's house to assemble with her little nuggets that she nannies.  Yup! This adventure was going to happen with the help of a 4, 5 and 7 year old. As they each hopped up on their stool so they could see the counter I wondered how this was going to turn out. It turned out to be a fairly easy process.

Step one: Squish the red, white and blue dough into a rectangular tub.  Good activity for small children.  They succeeded.

Step two: Take the squished rectangular block of patriotic awesome and slice into slabs of cookie dough.  Remind children for the 23rd time that cookie dough has raw egg and we don't eat cookies until they are baked (Then sneak a little taste because you are the adult and this is one of those do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do kind of rules and cookie dough is delicious.)


Oh hello slab of cookie dough.  Don't you look festive!

Step three: Bake cookies at designated temperature.

Step four: Once baked, quickly take a cookie cutter and cut out the star shape.  Small children can do this step and you can thank them with a baked cookie scrap.  You don't get one though because you ate the raw dough, remember?  You've got to look out for your figure.

Step five: In every third cookie, cut a square out of the middle.  This is where the surprise will go.  If I were biting into most foods, I would not enjoy the presence of a surprise, but this surprise is chocolate, so it's safe.

Step six:  Okay, time to fess up!  Who ate glue during art in elementary school? It probably was gross.  I never tried it but I might have if the glue was buttercream icing like what we used to glue the whole cookie to the cookie with the square cut out.

Step seven: Fill the whole with candies.  I did red, white and blue sunflower seeds but next time I am totally doing pop rocks.  Like firecrackers! Oh yes. Happening.

Step eight: Glue with more frosting and cover with another whole star.

Voila! Star-spangled Independence Day Cookies. The presentation was mostly successful even with the aid of small children.  In the end, I've decided it is actually beneficial to bake with them around because they can unknowingly be blamed for any kitchen mishap.  I kinda like that.  Flat cookies? Oh the kids helped me bake them.  Lopsided cake?  Oh the kids helped me bake it.  Burnt brownies. Oh the kids were making them with me.  It's brilliant.  I am going to hire a kid or two from now on every time I bake.  If yours are for sale, I can take them off your hands...

So there you have it.  My tribute to America.  I didn't do much on the actual holiday to honor our country (unless you count my nod to commercialism with a day trip to IKEA) but I did make a cookie.  God bless America, y'all!

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…” 1 Timothy 2:1-3

Friday, June 29, 2012

"If at first you don't succeed, destroy any evidence that you tried." -Unknown

Everybody has a bucket list.  They usually include things like traveling to an interesting destination, sky diving, singing in front of a large audience, or meeting a famous person.  Sure, those are nice, but today? I completed a biggie on my bucket list.  Making homemade fortune cookies.  Seriously.  It's on there. I have always wanted to make them.  Fortune cookies are this incredible treasure.  If you invite me for chinese food at a restaurant, you had better call ahead and ensure that they have fortune cookies because if they don't, I probably wont enter.  Preferably, they will have a basket in which you can grab extras and become extra fortunate and not be the cheap ones who leave one per every person at your table along with the check.  I like to be extra fortunate, what can I say? 

So, anyways, back to the bucket list.  When my friend, Jill, invited me to come and help her make fortune cookies for a surprise party she was throwing with an Asian cuisine, I naturally accepted.  She had put her boyfriend and his friend in charge of writing the fortunes.  Most of the fortunes weren't actually fortunes but it's better than if I were in charge, because I would have just put "You will be rich." on every single one.   Then it would come true, right?  Right... Amongst the fortunes was the quote, "If at first you don't succeed, destroy any evidence that you tried."  I didn't even have to break open that fortune to make it a reality.  You see, this is the final product:

You may be thinking, oh wow, that is really impressive.  And okay, it looks good.  We did a celebratory dance at the outcome of our project, but allow me to teach you some math.  What is 2 times 20?  Did you answer 40? Wrong! The answer is 24.  Our recipe was doubled and should have yielded 40 cookies, but in the midst of learning the art of fortune cookie-ing, a great mass was thrown away.  24 were made in total.  The first one was a success.  It was put in the skillet and cooked like so:

Then you had to quickly stick in the fortune, fold and pinch it on the top, rest it on the lid of a glass to make that famous crease on the bottom and say a quick prayer that it didn't crack.  There were a lot of failed attempts.  But have you ever seen a blog where they showed off their burnt cookies or collapsed cake?  I wasn't about to photograph the mountain of fortune cookie scraps that had accumulated in our adventure. 

Apart from the grand event of completing a bucket list item, today was significant as it allowed for reflection.  Each day, when it comes to an end we are left with our reality. We are left with what we have accomplished or attempted and failed.  I hope that we all have dreams, hopes and desires and that we are filling our days pursuing them with all that we are.  We may have to throw out the scraps and the oopsies sometimes, we may have to stop and wonder if it can even be acheived, but the end result is always worth it.  The pursuit of dreams brings us to a greater understanding of our potential.  If we don't try, we may never know what we are truly capable of. 

"So if you find life difficult because you’re doing what God said, take it in stride. Trust Him. He knows what He’s doing, and He’ll keep on doing it." 1 Peter 4:19

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

You can take your metabolism and shove it!

Friends coming into town to visit naturally means that you are allowed to make a meal with enough calories to feed 500 when there are only three of you.  Anything goes.  As I flipped through the recipes I keep in my head, I could think of nothing better to prepare than this recipe for stuffed blueberry cream cheese french toast.  While I have never actually tried it, the mere fact that my principal interrupted my earth shattering lesson on double digit addition to ask for the recipe told me it would be a hit with my friends. 

Tell me this doesn't look good:

Can't tell me, can you? Thought so.  I think it looks good too.  My breakfast however did not include this mouth-watering delight.  I stuck with my usual carrots and peanut butter.  This metabolism is not very forgiving of the partaking in something so indulgent.  Not to fear though, my breakfast was heavenly. I discovered all natural peanut butter with coconut oil.  Oh. my. goodnessssssssssssss.  I melted a little with each crunch.  So. good.  In fact, if you so desire, you can stop reading this blog for a moment, go to the store, buy all natural peanut butter with coconut oil and return.  I'll be right here when you get back.  Seriously. So. good.  Did I mention it was good?  So, please do not feel bad for me and my slower-than-molasses-metabolism because I was on the floor, melted from all that yumminess that went into my mouth.  So. good. 

Everyone always wonders, as they see my blog and all of the sweet treats I make, how in the world I let them pass by without eating any of it.  Let me tell you, it is not always easy.  In fact, the title of this blog was actually what I jokingly said to one of my friends who was visiting and enjoying the stuffed french toast while I munched on carrots.  With her body type that allows spoonfuls of Nutella, bags of candy and all of the waffles one could dream of shoving in your face, I am a little envious.  Oh to have that metabolism...

But at the end of the day, the feeling of accomplishment gets me through.  The knowledge that being fit by hard work and not by natural blessing makes me proud.  This lets me get through my day.  This lets me savor every spinach leaf, broccoli tree and apple slice.  This pushes me to my 299th crunch on my new ab swing machine I recently purchased from the ARC on half off day for 4.00 plus tax that I love to hate. 

So while God didn't bless me with a speed-of-light metabolism, I have been challenged this week to remember that He has created something beautiful in me none-the-less.  Created in His image.  Valued.  Cherished.  Loved.  Let's face it, girls are the first to be aware of their flaws and constantly desire to be a better version of themselves.  Sometimes people who cross our paths can affirm our fears and make us feel less-than-worthy. We are constantly striving to prove that we are enough.  In Him? We are.  For that I am grateful.  In that knowledge I feel free.

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate." Proverbs 31:30-31