08-26-2014

Our First Day of School

We made it! No sobbing from mom! And only a little choked up once I got back to the car!

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It’s amazing how cathartic and therapeutic it is to write down how you feel. After last night’s foray into sadness & tears of how quickly the last four years have passed, I felt SO much better. And thank you for your encouragement after I shared how sad I was to see my girl growing up. Now I’m glad I got my emotions out early, because this morning I was freed up to be super happy and excited for her.

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So now I’ve got an empty house. And it’s SO QUITE ya’ll! Such an amazing sound! The sound of nothing. I can actually hear myself think! WOW!!!

For some reason though, I don’t really see myself staying at home today to enjoy this new solitude. I’m sure Jared would appreciate if I cleaned up this messy house a tad but I’m thinking I’ll go to a coffee shop instead, just to sit and think. That is one thing I have not been able to do much of in the last four years!

Enjoy your day! I’m pretty sure I will!

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08-25-2014

The last four years…

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I’m staying up late tonight, hoping that with each drawn out breath, time will magically suspend itself. My baby girl goes to ‘real’ school tomorrow. And even though I thought I’d be super excited to have the house to myself, I am now wishing I had just one more day with her & I at home. I’m sad. I’ve already shed a few tears. And, I haven’t even made it to the day of drop-off!

When I went to Target tonight for one last sippy cup & the just right snack holder, it hit me that in the future it will be rare that I will need to use those cumbersome non-turning excessively heavy buggies made for moms like me. You know, the ones that fit two kids in the front and still leave you an entire buggy’s worth of space to add all those non-essential items that certainly seem beyond essential when surrounded by bright lights, red signs, and oh yes…screaming melting down children. One would think I’d be excited that the chances are slim I will need to haul two children with me to a store again. But no, that thought process actually made me tear up!

Whew, I can’t imagine what tomorrow morning’s gonna look like! I’m going back & forth between imagining me sobbing as I walk down the never ending hallway OR perhaps the principal will be dragging me down that hallway. Cause I’m not really sure I’m ready to leave little Miss Stella behind.

But Miss Stella, oh, she’s ready to move on. Every single morning she asks if today is THE DAY she gets to go to school. And tonight her last words before her head hit the pillow were “So tomorrow’s the day, right, Mom? Tomorrow I get to go to school?” I wish I could intonate her tone in that question. It’s so full of FINALLY, MOM, FINALLY I get to go to school with my big brother! I am finally a BIG kid!!

So this summer I tried to treasure every single precious second we spent together. Granted, there were moments I felt my patience wearing thin but overall it was a delightfully slow summer. It was about playing legos, impromptu trips to the beach, racing doll strollers down the hallway, trying to convince Mom that this time the lizard really wouldn’t die if we left him in a sealed up jar in the 100° heat. Hmmm, as of tonight, I am still not convinced that lizards can somehow live in a virtual oven!

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Unfortunately, time does not stop & the clock continues to tick-tock, tock-tick.

I’ll let you know how drop-off goes!

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07-29-2014

Fluffy Light Spelt Biscuits

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I wonder what it was like when the 49′ers struck gold…did they do air kicks while shrieking out “Eureka”? Because that’s what I did when I took my first bite of these delicious biscuits. They are that scrumptious!

Baking with spelt can be tricky. Sometimes it leads to hocky puck dense biscuits or the opposite end of the spectrum…cookies that  spread all over the baking sheet. But these turned out pretty close to perfect and I think a lot of that has to do with keeping the butter properly chilled and using the correct techniques to ensure as much steam as possible gets trapped inside the baking biscuits.

I’m pretty sure that my grandma’s would agree with me that making biscuits is an art form and these tips & tricks below will help you get it just right so you can do your own air kicks!

Enjoy ~

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Tips & Tricks

The chilled, almost frozen, butter leads to more steam being produced in the baking process which leads to more tender & fluffy biscuits. And folding the biscuits like a letter is what produces lots of different layers in your biscuits. Also, if you twist the cutter instead of going straight down your biscuits will not rise very well. And placing the biscuits so close together traps more steam as well.

Fluffy Light Spelt Biscuits

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Total Time: 47 minutes

Yield: 6-8 biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white spelt flour (VitaSpelt recommended)
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 6 tbsp chilled butter
  • 1/2 - 2/3 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat liner.
  2. Take chilled butter out of fridge and with a paring knife, cube into 1/2" pieces. Place cubed butter into freezer for at least 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a fork or pastry blender cut the butter cubes into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. Place bowl into the freezer and allow the flour & butter mixture to chill thoroughly for 15 minutes.
  4. Using a wooden spoon, mix the milk into the chilled flour, starting with just 1/2 cup of the milk. Stir gradually until the flour begins to pull together and dough is completely sticky, adding additional tablespoons of milk as needed. I used a full 2/3 cup of milk but it is always best to start with less milk and add more as you go.
  5. Sprinkle a generous amount of flour onto a pastry mat or wooden surface. Place dough onto floured surface and then sprinkle another generous amount all over the top of the dough. Using the palm of your hand, pat out the dough until it is approximately a 1" thick rectangle/letter shape.
  6. As you work with the dough, don't be afraid to sprinkle extra flour on top and sides as needed. You don't want to dry out the dough but at the same time, you don't want it so sticky that it sticks to your hand.
  7. Now fold the rectangular dough up the same way you would a letter. So the bottom third up onto the middle, then fold the top dough onto the middle portion. Pat down again to a 1" thick rectangle/letter shape. Repeat the fold process one more time. Pat the dough down to a final 1" thickness.
  8. Using a 3" round biscuit cutter, press biscuit cutter straight down without twisting it. Place biscuits directly onto the lined baking sheet, spacing only 1/2" apart.
  9. Bake for approximately 12 minutes, rotating halfway through, until golden brown.

 

 

07-08-2014

Brownie Ice Cream Pie

Ever made brownies that were just a tad crumbly or have more cookies on hand than you should could eat? Or, ever purchased way too much ice cream for the 4th because of that buy one get one sale?

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Well here, my friends, is the solution!

This was inspired by a much cleaner, more holistic Dessert Pizza by Angela at Oh She Glows. My version is definitely not clean eating or refined sugar free or any vegan thingamadoey. One day I do hope to try out Angela’s Dessert Pizza but yesterday I needed to use up some brownies and the over indulging ice cream that wouldn’t stop enticing me. It didn’t hurt that it was also Jared’s birthday and I was able to make a birthday dessert for him with ingredients I already had on hand.

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Ingredients
1 batch of already made brownies or chocolate chip cookies
1 pint chocolate ice cream, slightly chilled (not frozen)
1 pint vanilla ice cream, slightly chilled (not frozen)
1 batch Peanut Butter Shell Drizzle (from Oh She Glows)
1 batch Chocolate Ice Cream Shell
coconut oil

Recipe
Using a teaspoon of coconut oil, lightly grease the bottom & sides of a springform pan.

Crumble brownies or cookies onto bottom of springform pan. Using your palms, press the mixture down firmly and spread to sides of pan.

In a glass bowl, stir together the chocolate and vanilla ice creams until swirled together. Pour ice cream mixture onto the top of the brownie crust. Place ice cream pie into freezer and allow to freeze for 10-15 minutes.

Make one batch each of the peanut butter drizzle and chocolate ice cream shell. Place the peanut butter drizzle into a plastic zipper top bag and snip the corner. (This makes for easier drizzling! The chocolate syrup can easily be drizzled with a fork.)

Alternating between the peanut butter and chocolate toppings, drizzle each sweet concoction onto the top of the ice cream pie. Once all the toppings have been used up, place the pie back into freezer for at least 4 hours for everything to set nicely up.

Scrumptious!

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Enjoy ~

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07-03-2014

Heirloom Cherry Tomato and Mozzarella Skewers with Balsamic Vinegar

Looking for a quick & easy appetizer for the 4th of July? This tasty hor d’oeuvre is so simple to put together that I feel silly even typing up a recipe. But hopefully these tips & tricks will make this dish sublime!

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Ingredients
2 pints heirloom cherry tomatoes (a mix of different hues if possible)
1 lb of fresh mozzarella balls
extra virgin olive oil
balsamic vinegar
kosher or sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
fresh basil leaves (optional)

Recipe Tips & Tricks

Slice cherry tomatoes in half and place in glass bowl along with the mozzarella balls. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and then sprinkle on a generous teaspoon or two of kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper. Allow the ingredients to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

What you are doing is helping draw the water out of the tomatoes and adding a salty brined flavor. This is what is going to make the dish out of this world! If you don’t salt & pepper the tomatoes for just 5 minutes prior to assembling, they just aren’t going to taste the same.

Using skewers, alternate adding tomatoes & mozzarella as you see fit! Add in whole leaves of basil for a great caprese salad appetizer. Or, you could chiffonade (aka…slice it pretty!) the basil and scatter on top but I think you’ll have more punch by leaving the basil leaves whole.

Next, drizzle olive oil & plenty of balsamic vinegar all over the concoction. Finally, add a generous sprinkling of kosher salt & fresh ground pepper. Make sure to sneak a taste to ensure the flavor is vibrant. If not, guess what…add more salt & pepper and another splash (or two) of balsamic vinegar!

IMG_2589Happy 4th of July!! I hope everyone has a great time celebrating, shooting off fire works, and eating plenty of sweet summertime food!

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07-01-2014

A Wake Up Call

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I’m highly embarrassed to admit but…five years ago, I sat on a berber carpeted floor discussing vacation bible school with other church volunteers and I said…well what really matters most are the snacks!

And last year…vacation bible school was about the break i’d get from my 2 kids because finally, finally my youngest could attend.

SERIOUSLY???

So it was a big wake up call when a cousin of mine posted recently on facebook that his church had 61 kids attend the past week of vbs and most importantly…1 child accepted Christ as his Savior.

Made me think, what in the h*** is wrong with me? That VBS is this thing about animal crackers or getting a break from your kids? That isn’t it, Jessica.

It’s about winning kids to Christ. It’s imparting scripture in a 6 year old so that when he gets home and mom & dad don’t get along, he reads Psalms 56: 3-4 and says a prayer to God to keep him safe and calm. It’s teaching a 9 year old that honoring Christ is being kind to that kid on the playground who doesn’t have anyone to play with.

VBS is, can be, and should be…So MUCH MORE than free baby sitting. That 1 kid that chose to believe in Christ, to have faith in God…THAT, that’s what it’s about.

Sometimes I forget that kids can grasp way more than we think they can. I think they are too young to read them scripture straight from the Word or to explain what it means to be a Christian. Sure, they’ll ask questions I don’t always know the answer to. But they will probably actually have the faith that Christ was seeking as He said, “Let the little children come to me…for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” It’s me, with my super charged adult analysis, that has a hard time grasping the concept of faith. Not the kid who says “I do believe in Christ and want HIM as my Lord, as who I follow.”

Hmmm…not even sure how to close this post…but I’m thankful, so thankful, for this realization. How often do I see Sunday school, vbs, or child care during a Bible study as just that… just child care. But it’s not just that.

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“And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed, and when you are getting up.” Deut. 6: 6-7

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05-05-2014

Gourmet Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

It sure is hard being a food blogger’s kid!

I need to remind my kids constantly how lucky they are that baking and making unique eats is daily enjoyment in our house.

Yesterday we made these. If you aren’t salivating, you should be. So rich, so creamy, so delish!

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I followed the Raw Chocolate PB Cups recipe from Sarah @ The Sweet Life but did cheat and use semi-sweet chocolate chips & homemade pb. Still ooey-gooey goodness! Next time I think I’ll try sprinkling the top chocolate with a tiny pinch of sea salt prior to freezing. The contrasting taste of salt & sweet would make these sublime! (I used 1 & 1/4 cup of choc chips and was able to make 16 cups. Make sure to reserve enough chocolate for the top layer!)
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These would make a great surprise treat after school!

Enjoy ~

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05-04-2014

Lowcountry Giving Day

It’s a pretty awesome day when you find out that $1.5 Million dollars in matching gifts have been pledged to local Lowcountry charities!

And when you do the math…matching means double your gift…so basically $3 Million dollars could be poured into our community this Tuesday!

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This Tuesday, May 6, Coastal Community Foundation is taking part in #givelocalamerica #lowcountrygivingday for a 24 hour online fundraising campaign. There are almost 100 local non-profits that will benefit from this fundraising effort. In order for your donation to be matched, it must be made directly at Lift The Lowcountry.

So get ready to make a donation this Tuesday, May 6 to the charities that touch your heart.

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04-02-2014

Spelt Cornbread Muffins

When it comes to gluten free & egg yolk less baking, there are lots more failures than successes, it seems. At least in my kitchen there are! This past weekend I managed to glue the waffle maker stuck, no joke, when I tried to make yolk-less waffles!

But recently, I have had lots of luck replacing whole wheat pastry flour with a mixture of spelt & tapioca flours.

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These cornbread muffins were so delightful after numerous failures in the kitchen. They have a tender crumb, are moist, and have great corn flavor. I found the recipe in a vegan cookbook, as I’ve decided baking egg-yolk-less would be easiest if I simply followed vegan recipes. This is from Isa Does It and will be a recipe I use frequently. The only difference I made was substituting spelt & tapioca flour for the whole wheat pastry flour she calls for.

Tips & Tricks ~
I am just guessing here…but I think baking these directly in the muffin pans sans muffin liners is what creates the crust you are seeking in corn muffins. If you oil the pan well, you should have no problem in the clean-up! Use white (or sometimes called light) spelt flour to have a less dense muffin.

Spelt Cornbread Muffins
1 cup almond milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup + 2 tsp white spelt flour
2 Tbsp tapioca flour
1 cup self rising corn meal
1/3 cup coconut sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp refined coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1 cup corn kernels (optional & if using frozen, thaw first)

Preheat the oven to 350degrees. Lightly coat a 12 cup muffin pan with canola oil or cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the milk and vinegar, setting aside for atleast 2 minutes to curdle.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flours, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In the small bowl of milk, stir in the melted coconut oil and applesauce. Make a well in the bottom of the dry ingredients. Pour liquid ingredients into the well of dry ingredients. Mix together the dry & wet ingredients just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Be careful to not overmix as this minimizes how much muffins rise.

Fill muffin pans with batter and bake in preheated oven for approximately 18 minutes. Remove from oven and insert a spoon around the edges to help muffins be easily removed.

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Enjoy! And may we all have more successes in the kitchen this week than failures!

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03-31-2014

A21 Campaign – The Campaign Against Human Trafficking

I’m not sure when my interest in it began. Or where I first heard about it.

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But my interest in the sadness of human trafficking has been lurking in the foggy corners of my consciousness for quite a while.  It’s like the dirt you sweep under the rug when your friends come to call but no matter where you hide it, the dirt remains. It seems quite easy to sweep human injustice into the recessed corners of our minds. You tell yourself…It isn’t in my backyard, it happens to a different socioeconomic class, there’s nothing I can do to stop it from happening…all heaped upon excuses to keep our guilt at bay that we are only focused on moi.

At least, this is how it is for me. But sometimes you hear one to many times about an organization that wants to garner awareness & prevent human trafficking. You find out one of their 2 US locations happens to be in your backwoods. You are invited to attend a women’s conference where guess who…the ED of the organization will be the keynote speaker…you sit in church that next Sunday and the preacher talks about human trafficking occurring in SC not just the slums of India…you come across the speakers name time after time…all random occurrences, right? But finally, you wonder if it is God who has ignited this desire in your heart?

Even though I feel like I am only one person and keep asking myself what can one person really do to help…I am reminded that…We are only individuals when we think of ourselves as one person. But when joined together in a common cause, we are no longer just one person. 

So here are some interesting facts I’ve learned…

What is human trafficking?
It is the illegal bondage of a person…slavery…and normally results in forced labor and sex trafficking.

What is the average age of a victim?
12 YEARS OLD. That is astounding, so sad, makes me want to cry. I have friends with almost teenage daughters and the thought of them falling into a predators line of sight is sickening. It makes me want to go mama bear protecting on these girls who’ve been abused, hurt, stolen. Ahhh…it makes my heart ache.

This can’t affect that many people in the world, right?
Wrong….27 million people are estimated to be in bondage right now. 27 million!

So what can you do to help?
1. Become aware that this happens in our neighborhoods & towns just as much as in 3rd world countries. In just these first 3 months of 2014, Polaris Project has already received 897 calls from SC.  It occurs everywhere…truck stops for instance. Here is an interesting article of how it goes down at truck stops.

2. Listen to your intuition. If you see something odd or something just doesn’t seem right, do something about it. Make a phone call to authorities or 1-888-373-7888 (National Human Trafficking Resource Center).

3.  Make sure the teenagers in your life know how valuable they are, how loved they are, how special they are. Often traffickers choose victims who have little self value…telling them how beautiful they are, how much they are liked…and then in turn forcing them into prostitution or labor.

4. Write an encouraging card to a survivor of trafficking. These survivors need to know that they can do it, that they can survive the horrific experiences they have gone through. This only takes a few minutes of your day but could have a huge impact on a person’s life.

 No matter what the injustice in this world is that makes you see red, never believe you can’t make a difference! 

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