nourishing & unapologetic
6/28/2014 6 Comments
Unsurprising Confession: I really love cookies. The only other sweet I'd forego a cookie for is a brownie. But as of late, the Born household has been on a cookie kick.
Now, I must request a virtual ROUND OF APPLAUSE for Sally over at Sally's Baking Addiction for this kick butt recipe! It is undeniably one of the best cookie recipes I've ever made. (And this sweet tooth has made a lot of cookies over the last 28 years...)
What makes these cookies both addicting and awesome is their classic simplicity. My vegetable preferring husband is a sucker for soft cookies. He liked these Soft-Baked Monster Cookies so much requested I make these cookies two nights in a row.
These are perfect for any bake sale, picnic, family get together, or just an afternoon snack.
What these cookies aren't perfect for is bikini/swimsuit season. Seriously, you need willpower of a Saint to refuse one (er, three). Summer is in full swing and we're headed to Florida in a few weeks. This is when I should be eating greens, protein, and nothing enjoyable. But if you've been reading this blog, you know that I tend to prefer things that aren't going to keep me slim and trim. But as I grumble about what I look like (and maybe reach for another cookie at the same time) , I have to remind myself that I prefer to eat what I love and run a little more than regiment my diet. (For those who tell me that's not the way to think, I know this but I'm not looking to be a super model (I mean I'm 5'1.5" for goodness sakes!), just healthy.) I'm never going to be lean or cut because it's not something I value over being in the kitchen generating a form of love and a few calories.
But in the spirit of swimsuit season, let's quickly reflect on this wardrobe component that most women despise. And, then I'll share a few I'm coveting and/or considering. Then I promise I'll give you the goods on the cookies.
You might have seen this video on Facebook, but I wanted to share it here. I'm not sure what to think of Jessica Rey's call for modesty as means of empowerment. I am conflicted. On one hand, I think she's brilliant. I totally get not wanting to be seen as an "object". It repulses me to think that an article of clothing can slingshot our evolutionary advanced mind back to the more archaic times. But..
Here's my argument: a power suit is not about the amount of fabric and fit, but rather the mental and emotional feelings one has when wearing it. Power suit= self-confidence. To me, wearing any swimsuit at all and feeling like a rockstar in it is empowering. If that's a itsy bitsy bikini for some or a full-on one piece with a skirt, so be it. I will throw in the caveat that there are some swimsuits that are just not suited for all body types and generally you know when that's the case. And complete honesty, I am totally guilty of judging someone else for wearing something I don't think is flattering on them but that's my problem and my misstep. Seriously, who am I to judge what someone else feels best in?
All that said, here are a few swimsuits, in a variety of styles, I think are adorable for summer 2014:
I know after trying on swimsuits (virtually or in a store), I want a reward. Here's yours.
Soft-Baked Monster Cookies
Recipe source: Sally's Baking Addiction
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I prefer Mexican vanilla)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup quick oats*
3/4 cup your favorite M&Ms
1/2 cup milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
*I never have quick oats on hand, so I just put a little over a 1/2 cup of old fashioned oats in the food processor, pulsed for a few seconds, and viola!
Thanks for letting me ramble on today. I sincerely hope if you're on the hunt for a swimsuit this summer that you find one that makes you feel 100% beautiful and/or comfortable. If you do, celebrate with these cookies. If not, commiserate with these cookies. Either way this recipe is a homerun! Talk to you soon.
PS For the mommas out there debating whether to pass on the pool or splash with your kiddos, check out this article. It's a good read.
Free. Joyful. Full-speed ahead. That's Garth in a nutshell. This goldendoodle was in Hog Heaven at Nicholas' grandma's farm. He would run himself ragged and then he'd run some more.
Garth is wise beyond his 9-months of age. Metaphorically and and in real life, he's got it right. Life's tough; keep going. Life's exciting; keep going. Life doesn't stop; keep going. You gotta just keep running.
As some may know, I'm trying to train for my second half marathon. (Thanks bestie A for inspiring the first!) But seriously, I guess I'm crazy enough to think I should go for round two. The constant in both training experiences thus far is that I am a not a natural runner. I had a terrible run right before this post. I mean U-G-L-Y. My legs felt like lead and my lungs felt like they were the size of grapes (i.e. no air capacity). This is on the heels of running my best mile ever two days prior. Inconsistency drives me bonkers. So, I've been rather defeated.
Nick's been trying to run with me more, which in theory is a great idea. "The couple that runs together, stays together", right? Well, sure. But when one partner is athletic and the other is the self-declared FFK*, we know running is likely not the perfect hobby to do jointly. Since our coupled running has started, I developed a nickname and/or hashtag for dearest hubby, #notrainingNick as he can breeze through each mile despite his lack of training. He's returned the favor declaring that my mantra for each run #thisbasicallysucks. (I guiltily admit, I'm a complainer when it comes to hitting the pavement.)
So this aforementioned awful run had me super discouraged. Nick, bless his heart, is a pretty good cheerleader and did his best to push me to finish. I did everything but bawl or throw a fit while trying to get back to our house. It wasn't pretty. Post-run and post-dinner, my head cleared some. And I realize I finally heard Nick. And Garth. I'm out there, trying. And for now, each day, trying is enough. Without trying there will be no progress. I can't get faster if I don't run.
It's only fitting that I recently pinned this image on Pinterest. It's what I needed. I have a hard time feeling successful when it comes to any type of physical activity or athletic event. I am extremely hard on myself in all areas of my life but especially in areas that I am weak. In the remaining 16 weeks of my training, I am going to try to approve first, criticize second. And, above all, I am going to try to follow Garth's lead and just keep running. I encourage you to do the same. Give yourself a break; know you are enough as you are despite the bad runs and ugly days.
It's almost sinful and totally not natural, organic, healthy, or from scratch. It's gooey goodness could probably bring world peace if we had enough cookies though. It's literally the easiest, quick faux-S'more you can make inside. Plus, it's Oreo, Reese's and Jet-Puffed, is there a better combination? I think not! Here's the how-to:
Trust me. Make one of these ASAP. And then keep all the supplies on hand to make s'more. :)
Until next time--
*remember, FFK is former fat kid
Wow. Time got away from me. It's been a week since we've connected...But, fret not. Today, we're back on track. And, in honor of the first weekend of summer, let's indulge in one of the best breakfast treats one can chew: donuts!! These donuts are a bite of the sunny season- light, bright, and full of citrus.
(Now before we get lost on spelling and semantics, I traditionally spell this word "doughnut" but sometimes "donut" just fits. In case you'd like more info on the spelling variance, get a quick history here.)
Our dear niece and her parents came to visit us this past weekend. Though she's little, like her auntie, she has a sweet tooth. I took advantage of the opportunity to bake for her. (And to make up for my lack of posts this week, I'm going to include a bonus recipe from our visit at the end of this post!) While she was here we got loads of love and chatter and managed a visit to the zoo. Here's a brief gallery of our fun!
Sweet girl was most excited when we visited the flamingos. I guess it's fitting that this recipe produces pale flamingo-colored donuts. They're super simple. Let's get started.
Glazed Grapefruit Donuts
(recipe based from Sprinkles and Style)
Makes 8-12 donuts*
To make the donuts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of one grapefruit
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk (almond, whole, whatever you have on hand)
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
*I made 11 donuts but wish I'd made 8-9 so they would have been fluffier)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Whisk flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, and grapefruit zest in a mixing bowl until just combined.
3. Add egg, milk, and oil. Mix until just moistened.
4. Spoon the batter into prepared donut pans sprayed with baking spray. (Try to fill about halfway or a scoosh more)
5. Bake for 8-12 minutes. (I baked for about 11 minutes). Remove from pan after a minute or two. Let cool on a cooling rack.
To make the glaze
juice from one-half of the grapefruit
a splash or two of lemon juice
about 2 cups powdered sugar
6. Whisk together the grapefruit and lemon juices and powdered sugar in a bowl. (Use your judgement on the amount of liquid you need. You do want this to be a bit runny...it's a glaze not frosting.)
7. Dip cooled donuts in the glaze. Let excess drip off and back on the cooling rack. they go. (I put a piece of parchment paper underneath the cooling rack so clean up would be easier.)
8. If planning to double dip (which is recommended!), let the glaze set in between each coat.
These donuts are best enjoyed the day they're made but can be stored in airtight container once dry. They are a great start to any day or a nice afternoon pick me up.
Our niecey LOVES her some Oreos. This bonus recipe was made with just her in mind! It's super simple semi-homemade dessert. Trust me it might not the prettiest but it'll suck you in and before long the whole pan will have vanished.
Now the inspiration for this dessert came from Cookies and Cups blog but I didn't have all the key players so we made our own version, now affectionately named, Oreo Mess.
1 box fudge brownie mix (I typically favor Betty Crocker)
1/4 cup water
2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 -3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
12-15 Double Stuf Oreos, chopped/crushed
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare brownies according to box directions.
3. Pour into prepared 9x13 baking pan. Bake for 24-26 minutes (I tend to like our brownies a bit underdone so I baked mine for 22 minutes).
4. Let brownies cool in pan completely.
5. In stand mixer, cream cream cheese until smooth and semi-fluffy.
6. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix. Add teaspoon of vanilla. Mix. Add more powdered sugar if needed to reach desired consistency. I like it to be a little on the thicker side so I added about 3/4 cup additional powdered sugar.
7. Fold in 12 chopped/crushed Oreos. You could drag out the food processor but I just put mine in a ziptop baggie and beat with a rolling pin until the cookies were broken down.)
8. Spread frosting on cooled brownies.
9. Top with 3 additional chopped/crushed Oreos.
I hope you'll give both of these recipes a try when the occasion presents itself. And, by occasion, I mean any day that ends in "y". Happy official start of the summer season! Here's to sandals, tan lines, sweet tea, ice cream, watermelon, and loads of grilled food! Talk to you soon!
The man that stole this girl's heart first is my daddy-o, James. He's affectionately called Dad, Milton, Milty, Papa Pope, and more. No matter the name, his awesomeness in this role remains. He may play the lottery, but I won the jackpot. I seriously couldn't have asked for a better father.
On this Father's Day, I wanted to take a minute to share a few of the chief lessons he's taught me (and many others).
Lesson #1: PMA
If you don't know what PMA stands for you probably haven't been lectured by my father. It's POSITIVE Mental Attitude and it's his mantra--wholehearted, bold font, underscored. He operates in life with the thought that 90% of the battle is showing up ready to work with a good perspective. PMA means you can be your own champion or your own worst enemy. I can be a "glass half empty" kind of person sometimes and it drives my dad (and husband) bonkers. I cannot tell you how many times my dad has uttered "PMA" at me, sometimes in the form of a reminder and sometimes as a solution. Admittedly, now when I begin to doubt or go straight to worst-case scenario land, I do hear this in my own head. It's not my natural mode, but I try. And, I'll continue to try.
Lesson #2: Work hard.
This picture is one of my very favorite images from our wedding (thanks Mike and Julie!). It speak volumes to me and automatically put that "Daddy's Hands" song in my head.
My dad's hands are tanned, strong, and rough. They are a testament that he is rarely idle. He owns his own business, a dental lab, so he works with his hands most days, all day. They are his best tools. He's an advocate for working hard and working well. He figures you have two hands and it's your responsibility to do something worthwhile with them. While I didn't grow up doing lots of manual labor type chores, I did grow up with an appreciation for putting forth all the effort you've got regardless of the situation or activity. And going for it full-throttle doesn't just apply to when you're getting paid, but in service too. Outside of his day job, he works hard in a volunteer capacity for the Crawford County Sheriff's Department, the Baker Township Fire Department, and the Bone Creek Gun Club.
Lesson #3: Be your own person and be your own boss.
Dad has always done things his own way on his own time. He doesn't lack for an opinion on anything and you'll always know where you stand. He's true to himself in every situation.
He's owned his own business for thirty-ish years. He will frequently tell you he doesn't have a job, rather a hobby that makes money. It's truly a refreshing perspective on work. He gets to operate the business on his terms. Now, he might work til midnight more than a handful of nights each month, but he also doesn't have to punch in at 8:00am if he doesn't want to, and, he likes it that way.
Lesson #4: Find a hobby (or three).
Though free time is scarce, my dad has always had hobbies. He's an avid shooter. He's a motorcycle man. He's rebuilt a hot rod. He makes jewelry. He is a jack of all trades and master of many. Many might question his "meet himself coming and going" approach but it's my theory that his hobbies keep him sane and curious. He is always learning, always growing, and always connecting.
Lesson #5: Don't know a stranger.
if you've ever been anywhere with my dad, you know the 10 minute trip to the store is going to take 30 because he'll find five people to talk through while he's in the aisles. When I was younger, I was always amazed at how many people he knew. And, they'd be all different kinds of people who did all kinds things. He doesn't know a stranger. He'll talk to anyone and ask them just about anything. He's a genuinely curious person and chatting up others is his way of learning more about people (and I think himself too).
For me, a slight introvert, making small talk and asking questions can be hard. But I think of my dad. All my life he's been teaching me the basic rule of communication: just do it. Use your words to share your thoughts, help others, develop relationships, learn new things, garner resources, and enjoy the surroundings your in.
Now, I've bragged about the rockstar my dad is and given you a solid glimpse into his character and personality with my the top 5 things he's taught me. Mostly, I've shared these things because I love him and think this is a fitting tribute to his fatherhood on this special day. But, it's also in preparation to ask for a favor of you: If you live in the Third District of Crawford County (here), I'd ask you to consider voting for him in the race for County Commissioner.
Yes, that's right Papa Pope is entering the world of formal, local politics! While I am biased, I truly believe he will be an incredible asset for the Third District and County as well as an advocate for the area's residents. In short: He loves the area he calls home. He is a cheerleader for our area's values. He's willing to learn and hear from those with concerns. As your Commissioner, constituents should expect an open door, open ears approach. Maintaining the integrity of the area’s values, increasing the quality of life, and improving processes and opportunities in the County are his chief priorities. Operating with transparency, especially in budgetary matters, he will steward the will of the people of Crawford County. If this appeals to you, use your voice at the polls. Vote Pope.
He is obviously my favorite candidate and I hope he'll be yours too.
I could continue to go on and on about this funny, strong-willed, loyal man who is my father, but in the interest of time, I'll close with this: Thank you!! And, Happy Father's Day!
PS Be sure to appreciate and celebrate all the fathers in your life today!
I've not cooked anything outstanding this week, so unfortunately you'll start your weekend recipeless. But, good news! Today's post marks the beginning of a new blog feature: Friday Favorites. I hope to make this a semi-regular occurrence. Expect a rundown of my cravings, inspirations, enjoyments, and wants.
Here's what I'm currently loving:
I love Instagram. Maybe it's passe. Maybe it's too trendy. Either way, I love this social media outlet for now. Why? Yes, I get to see snapshots from the lives of friends and families. Yes, I get a glimpse into the kitchens of some of the food bloggers I adore. But more than that, I get to be inspired or challenged by photos like this.
I believe this quote is from I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame by Brene Brown, but I am not entirely certain as I saw it on my Instagram feed from Jenna's Kitchen. (I share with the disclaimer that these are not my words or my photo.)
These words. These words. Seriously. Read them and re-read them. They will likely mean something different to each reader. In my opinion, our culture has sooooo many admirable qualities and so many struggles. As a twenty-something female and a newlywed in our world, I'd say there's lots of opportunity for shame and societal pressure. I admitted in my introduction that I am a recovering perfectionist; I say that with humor and sincerity. I used to spend a lot of time in comparison-ville and have been known to be a little bit green in the gills. As I grow older and gain, what I guess can be called, life experience, I am starting to understand that is of no use. At a very primary level, generally people are the same. We all want: acknowledgement, affirmation, success, and connection. By-and-large, shame and envy are not fruitful. This quote sums it up, at the heart of everything we're driven to relate to one another as a means to exist and move forward. This drive is probably the reason I finally blogged. Take it for what it's worth, but I genuinely appreciate that you've clicked your way to this site. I hope we'll continue to connect both here and likely in our real world settings, too.
Let's take the challenge to live comfortably and fully as we are at this very moment. After all, that's all we can ask for.
Sweet, sweet summa-time! Don't get me wrong, I am sucker for all the seasons. But, I do love me some summertime. Give me warm temperatures, pooltime, and sunshine anytime!
I think what I enjoy most is the longer days. If you know me at all, you likely know I don't tend to turn lots of lights on and prefer natural light. If there are windows around, I want the blinds raised and the curtains open. Let the light shine in. Give me that Vitamin D! You just can't beat extra hours of sunshine this time of year.
More daylight means the time to do more, especially outside. You can bet I've been logging more miles on the pavement than I have on the treadmill. Garth's also been enjoying an evening stroll with Nick and I more regularly too. There's something special about this time of year. So let's channel our inner schoolkid and pray summer sticks around for a while. Relish the rays, but don't forget your sunscreen!
I don't know about you, but I have a grocery problem. I tend to buy too many. And, I don't coupon well. Since we're currently working on budgeting in the Born household I am trying my best to do things differently. I'm trying to be better at making meal plans, sticking to my shopping list, and actually using coupons. Enter the Dillon's Mobile App.
Have you tried it? If not, pause to download the free app at this moment.
(And despite my affiliation with Kroger via Kwik Shop because of my brother's employment, this is not an endorsement based from our relationship.) I genuinely think this app is a cool blend of function and convenience. It let's you browse the weekly ads, clip digital coupons, track your rewards and refills, and host your shopping list all in the palm of your hand. It is good representation of the increasing digital world we operate in. Plus it's free-- it doesn't get much better than that.
Hope you find this integrated app helpful! Save on, save on.
(PS If you're a Target shopper, check out their savings app, Cartwheel!)
My Jawbone UP band, in persimmon, is one of my constant accessories. It's a versatile addition to my typical arm candy. Nicholas sneakily purchased this for my birthday this year. And, it's safe to say I love it. (Bravo, husband!)
If you're not familiar with the Jawbone UP band, it's a bracelet of sorts that tracks your activity (walking, running, etc), sleep patterns, and your calories. It has an integrated app that allows you to more seamlessly track your information too. It's similar to a Fitbit, which you might have heard of before.
Beyond tracking, the band motivates you to compete with yourself and your goals. A week or so ago, I reached my millionth step logged since February and I am still going. It's a great reminder to be active. Check it out and then get moving!
I could eat Mexican, Tex-Mex, or southwest-inspired food every single day and never grow tired of it. Tacos, beans, tortillas, queso, guac...I'm in! Further, I am a fan of fast food. Yes, it's true. (FFK rearing her head again). With fast food it's consistent, a characteristic that gets high marks in my book . Plus, you can't make it at home; it's just never the same.
There's a local place here that is great for a quick fix. Taco Pronto turns out fresh food in flash for relatively little money. (For anyone from my original stomping grounds, think Taco Station on Broadway, a zillion times better but not open as late.)
Mind you this isn't gourmet, but it is good. I recommend not only the tacos (crunchy or soft), but also the bean burritos with added sour cream. If you find yourself in the Wichita area and in need of a filling, cheap meal, look no further.
Thanks for letting me share a few of my current favorite things. I know the mix is a little random but it's real. Future Fridays await; there will be favs about fashion, cookware, technology, and more to come...stay tuned. And, feel free to steer me towards any of your loves too. Talk to you soon!