Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hawaiian Macadamia Nut French Toast (With Coconut Syrup)

While we were in Hawaii 
(Trip 2.0: just three short months after we honeymooned there!) 
celebrating my parents' 25th Anniversary,
Mr. T and I developed a crazy, unfounded, easily misunderstood addiction to coconut syrup.
No joke.
This stuff became a staple in our breakfast routine.
We bought a bottle of it to hold us over on the mainland.
However, it didn't last for long.
We amazoned it... And for a whopping $27 we could have a second bottle.
No way! 

So, I became obsessed with making my own.
And success!

Coconut Syrup

1 can of coconut milk 
3/4 cup maple syrup 
(or maple sugar)

1. Add ingredients to small sauce pan over medium heat.
2. Stir together to taste. 
3. Remove from heat and serve over amazing macadamia french toast. 
(I like my syrup warm that's why it's heated on the stovetop...
If you could careless about that then go ahead and skip it)

Is your mouth watering yet?
Mine is... 
And I ate these already! 

Macadamia Nut French Toast

6 slices of bread
(sourdough, french, wheat... Whatever you'd like!)
1/3 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup shredded coconut
(sweetened or unsweetened, you take your pick)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs
1/4 cup coconut milk

1. Whisk eggs, about half of the shredded coconut, cinnamon, and milk in a shallow bowl.
(remember, you're going to dip your bread in there!)
2. Heat pan over medium high heat.
3. Drop the bread slices into egg mixture making sure both sides are covered.
4. Place slathered bread into heated pan.
5. Let cook about 4 minutes on one side, then flip and let the other side cook.
6. Serve on a plate, covered in coconut syrup, garnished with 
chopped macadamia nuts and the extra shredded coconut.
7. Enjoy!

This (not-so-French) toast is nothing short of addictive.
No joke, I'm not a French toast girl and I crave this dish.

Friday, March 30, 2012

So Fresh and So Clean Strawberry Scones

The now-in-season, my favorite of fruits sweetness that are strawberries
are a part of a well-rounded diet.
They fall into the five to thirteen servings of fruit per day the food pyramid prescribes.
Strawberries are also filling my life in great abundance these days.

I don't know that morning pastries are part of a well-rounded diet.
More importantly, I don't know that I care.
Loaded with fresh strawberries and free from refined sugars
these scones are guilt-free.
So fresh and so clean.
(Yep, going a little 1990's Outkast on you!)

A fruity tea would pair perfectly with one of these whole-wheat wonders.
Quite honestly,
I don't know what wouldn't make me happy next to a scone.

Fresh and Clean Strawberry Scones

2 cups whole wheat flour
3 Tablespoons agave (or honey)
1 Tablespoon powder
3/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup strawberries, sliced and diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2/3 cup half and half

1. Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Add butter by using your fingers (or a pastry cutter) to mix into flour mixture.
(This is done when the butter is the size of peas)
4. In a small bowl whisk egg, half and half, and agave. 
5. Create a well in the dry ingredients and stir until just doughy.
(Don't stir too much or it gets all mushy and doesn't do it's scone-y thing)
6. Cover surface lightly with flour and roll dough into a ball.
7. Tear into pieces and drop onto lined baking sheet.
(I broke it into eight pieces)
8. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
9. Let cool (if you can) and enjoy with a cup of joe! 

Yes, I admit it...
Scones are a full-blown obsession.
I just can't help myself anymore.
And when I remove the refined sugar and white flour
I somehow justify their "health benefits" in my little brain.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What Ten Days of Real Food Did to This Girl

(Here's me loving some dessert... Sugar, sugar, sugar)
I may or may not have mentioned my hair-brained idea to eat clean for ten days.
I didn't go all the way.
(Get your mind out of the gutter you silly goose!)
But really, I didn't do the eat strictly local and organic...
Mostly because of the cost and Mr. T and I's dream to live in a house of our own one day!
(Yeah, I want to be healthy, but I've got a budget to keep)

Ten days of real food.
A week and a half.
No big deal.
Try it, if I don't like it, then quit on day 11.
Unfortunately, that's not how it goes around here.
You see, I have a tummy that's as sensitive as a hormonal pre-teen girl.
One minute all's well, the next there's a major meltdown going on inside me!

At the end of ten days of real food,
my body has detoxed from refined sugar and other processed goods.
So much so, I get sick from the little slice of sugar heaven manmade nightmare.
The hangover I had from my birthday cake
(which was prefaced by cheesecake stuffed strawberries)
(and banana-caramel cupcakes)
was unbelievable.
I mean, the hangover of all hangovers.
Headache, upset stomach, lethargy... The works.

Needless to say,
ten days of real food have got this girl free of refined sugar for life.
Or for those of you with some street cred,
Fo' Lyfe!

While mourning my sweet and so-dependent relationship with sugar
seems like the fun thing to do,
I'm enjoying all the natural sweeteners I've discovered.
Like honey,
maple syrup (only the pure stuff),
juices (100% fruit juice),
(I'm thinking a series on the sweet stuff -from Earth!- would be all kinds of fun)

I'm not perfect.
Trust me, I've had a dozen tummyaches in two weeks.
There's something so alluring about having me some refined sugar.
But I'm going to share some of my alternatives.
Ways to swap healthy sweetness in for the (in my opinion) tough stuff.

If you're a sugar-avoiding master,
will you share some tips?
I'm a self-proclaimed sugar-aholic and I'm trying my best to stear clear of sugar,
but what satisfies your sweet tooth?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Meatless Monday: Sweet Potato and Yam Enchiladas

My dear enchiladas,
How do you catch my heart so.
I dream of you day and night.
Your spicy goodness,
your melty cheesiness,
your sweet potato-ey-ness.
(Not a word, but, yes, I'm good at making them up)

This meatless Monday I could no longer hold out.
Nope, my day and night dreams finally caved me in.
I seem to be sliding down a slippery slope of roasted sweet potatoes
and diving ear-deep into a lake of creamy salsa verde enchilada sauce.
(Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs -eque... I think yes)
Just imagine me
head thrown back,
arms flailing,
one foot popped in pure joy,
spewing enchilada sauce out of my mouth like a fountain.
Talk about joyous.

Now that I'm past my food dreamy diatribe,
let's move on to the recipe at hand!

Sweet Potato, Yam Enchiladas

2 yams, sliced and roasted
2 sweet potatoes, sliced and roasted
Corn tortillas
8 slices pepper jack cheese
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1 jar salsa verde
1 bunch cilantro
1 cup milk
(any kind will work, I used 1%)

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Sliced yams and sweet potatoes and toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.
3. Spread out on baking sheet(s) and roast for 1 hour.
(I do the potato roasting the night before)
4. Drop oven to 350F.
5. In blender combine salsa verde, milk, and cilantro (stems removed).
6. Blend until cilantro leaves are small, but not invisible.
(I know, so technical!)
7. Tear squares of cheese in half and place in the center of each tortilla.
8. Add there to five slices of roasted yam/sweet potato.
9. Roll tortilla up tight around the insides and poke with a toothpick.
(This'll hold it tight)
10. Place inside glass casserole pan.
11. Repeat eight times.
12. Cover with salsa verde-milk enchilada sauce.
13.  Sprinkle cheese over the top of the enchiladas.
14. Pop in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until bubbling.

My pictures are exceptionally awful this week.
Yep, apologies.
The sincerest of apologies.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dear Mr. T... Love, Me

Dear Mr. T, 

Just thought I should post these little pictures because Hazel is still so tiny.
Darn animal is already growing so fast and the days of carrying her are quickly ending.
Way to spoil the daylights out of that girl... 
I think she's starting to feel I'm lame.

You really are a rockstar of a husband.
(Not because you're really good at singing or playing the guitar...)
More because you push me to be a better person on the daily.
And you eat my meals: good, bad and the in between.

Thanks for being so good at admitting wrongs and saying sorry.
I'm learning to do so like you -emphasis on the learning part.

I'm excited for my birthday (surprise, surprise) and getting to start
celebration traditions with you.
I find such joy in knowing we get to continue and start family traditions of our own!


P.S. Hazel wanted me to tell you that she really likes it when you take her out...
In fact, she doesn't want me to take her outside anymore because you're so fun! 
(You know you meant to laugh and not roll your eyes!)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Nutella Scones

It's been twelve days since I shared my hair brained idea to eat clean with you...
Guess what? 
Twelve days later, I've tried going back to my old eating habits
and suffered terribly.
So I'm sticking as close to clean as possible.
(I'll share a little more on this in a post this weekend... 
but it's essentially eating as close to earth as possible)

Aside from my desire to eat clean...
I still crave and love sweets.
Chocolate chip cookies seriously haunt me.
In my dreams.
In my day dreams.
In my waking.
In my sleeping.
Oh, how I would love me a cookie.

If you can believe it,
this post isn't about a divine cookie.
As much as I wish it was.
Instead it's about ever wondrous...

Remember how I love scones?
Yep, I still love them now.
So, I gave in (a little bit) and made some Nutella scones.
These babies have the doughy goodness of scones
paired with the sweetness of Nutella spread
and will happily compliment any cup of steaming hot liquid that suits your fancy!
All of the ingredients are clean (minus the Nutella).
Mr. T eats these like they're crack
But they're not.

Nutella Scones
recipe adapted from here

2 cups whole wheat flour
3 Tablespoons agave (or honey)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon powder
3/4 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%) 
1/2 cup Nutella 

1. Preheat oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, and salt.
3. Add butter by using your fingers (or a pastry cutter) to mix into flour mixture.
(This is done when the butter is the size of peas)
4. In a small bowl whisk eggs, milk, and agave. 
5. Create a well in the dry ingredients and stir until just doughy.
(Don't stir too much or it gets all mushy and doesn't do it's scone-y thing)
6. Cover surface lightly with flour and roll dough into a ball.
7. Tear into pieces and drop onto lined baking sheet.
(I broke it into eight pieces)
8. Top each scone with a Tablespoon of Nutella.
(You can see it on top of each scone in the pictures)
9. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
10. Let cool (if you can) and enjoy with a cup of milk! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Not-So-Well-Known Bible Story of Jonah and The Vine

*This post is a longer one, but I promise it's golden!

With Easter on the horizon and bible talk with Baby Bear (he's nine now!) after church
I can't help but reflect on all of the bible stories that I learned as a child 
I come up with so many classic Sunday School lessons...

Noah and the Arc and his many pairs of animals,
David and Goliath,
Jesus healing a blind man,
Moses parting the Red Sea,
Joseph and the Technicolor Coat,
Jonah and the Whale...
Oh how the list goes on!

Undoubtedly one of my favorites was Jonah and the Whale.
Come on, who wouldn't love the story of a man swallowed by a whale who lived to tell about it!?!
(It may help that Disney got ahold of this one and paired it with a precious -but lying- wooden puppet)
Now as an adult I find myself loving the Sunday School classics with a nostalgic reverance, rather than the action packed tales of my youth.
During college, God changed my preconceived notions about Jonah and said whale through a message at church. In fact, He made me forget the whale completely!
At the end of chapter 4 in the book of Jonah comes the story of Jonah and the vine,

"Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live."
But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?"

"I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die."

But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"
-Jonah 4: 5-11

Let's just set the scene here with a spark noted version of this passage.
After his major temper tantrum, Jonah storms out of the city into the dessert to pout.
I imagine him shaking his fist at God angry about the city he has been called to preach
while stomping his feet every step of the way.

Despite Jonah's spoiled actions, God provides three things for him:
1. a vine for shade
2. a worm to wither above-mentioned vine
3. a hot wind from the east
Sitting amongst God's provision, Jonah finds himself miserable
and, once again, shakes his fist.
(This time I see both hands high in the air while the veins in his neck bulge)

God, strong, yet gentle in his great patience, reminds Jonah
he had no hand in growing the vine or creating the worm's appetite or stirring the winds.
In fact, God continues, Jonah has no concern about the vine, the worm, the winds.
But God does.

Why, oh why is it so easy to be just like Jonah?
God calls us to bring glory to Him in a way we weren't expecting
and how do we react?
With a huff and a puff and a storm right out of town.
When God provides for our completely undeserving selves and it dies away,
we throw a fit, shake our fists, and stomp off.
Why God? Why me? What don't you get?
Woe is me!

Time to get it straight.
I am blessed to live a wonderful life in a beautiful country
with an amazing family and a husband that's better than I could ever have dreamed.
I didn't do anything to earn it.
My life is so blessed by His grace.
So what if I don't have the beauty of Miss America,
the brains of a Harvard graduate,
the sports skills of Kobe Bryant?
I have more than I could ever dream of because Christ died on the cross for me
to please his Father who really should unleash His rage on my sinful self.
Just as the vines come and provide shade, God covers us.

God will bless me with light, with sun (He must like sun-kissed skin too!) by allowing worms in.
All jokes aside, I give thanks for the sun.
God is exposing us because He knows we will not burn to a crisp
under the heat of His greatest star.
He will provide a breeze or some water, shade or some clouds
until the time has come for you to enjoy the coolness of night.
While that hot eastern wind blows, be thankful for the air that fills your lungs.
Be thankful for the invisible reminder of God's strength.
Realize that, just like in the Bible, one feels most alive when life is reminding you
it's just not easy.

Don't just count your blessings, but attribute them to the Almighty King
 that deserves much more than we could ever bring to Him.
 Remember His sweet blessings on your life the next time you are grouchy
about the calling He has for you.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dear Mr. T... Love, Me

Dear Mr. T,
Six months ago we shared "I do's",
did you realize life together would only get better?
I didn't, but it did!

I truly enjoyed my day checking out the rod run 
and adventuring with our little fuzzy munchkin.
(I don't blame everyone for checking her out)

I'm excited for tomorrow.
And for the next day... and the one after that... 
and the one after that... 
(times infinity).

I love you Mr. T.
Thanks for taking me as your Mrs.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thanksgiving Thursday

Isn't this cake cool?

I made it for Mr. Thomas' birthday at the end of last summer.
So proud of myself.
So proud.
I just wish that I had some kind of tomato looking thing.

But I decided that it's perfect for today because I feel celebratory in my thanks.
This Thursday I am thankful for more than I can put in a simple list.

An inbox full of eager emails.
A nursery thriving (at least for the time being).
A cat nap with a sweet puppy dog.
Business and busy-ness.
A dinner cooked by my sweet husband.
Running long with Mama Bird.
Eating clean and enjoying it.
Trying new and different things to improve my health and diet.
A neighbor's cupboard.
Hats to cover oily roots.
Cold feet in warm slippers.
Bible study full of laughs, memories, and friends.
Double dating with another married couple next week.
(Mr. T & I's first grown-up double date!)
Walking down memory lane.
Almost six months (just two days away!) with Mr. T as my husband.
My final name change complete.
Laying in bed talking until much too late at night.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Baptism & Bride-dom

The night before our wedding we did the normal rehearsal day things: practiced the order of the ceremony, ate dinner, enjoyed time with the bridal party and our families while we basked in things finally coming together. We did add a little extra moment in with the evening that we'd been looking forward to sharing in our sweet little community of people. 

On September 8th, 2011 (just 24 hours before we were married) Mr. Thomas and I were baptized.

We attended church for years prior and were sure we wanted to be baptized, but somehow continued to hold off on it. Then when we got engaged I mentioned how magical the thought of being baptized together seemed. And he concurred. 

We set the date (again) and let everyone in attendance know. Then we asked the pastor that married us to do the submerging. And he agreed. 
With all of our family and the bridal party present, the pastor who married us, who is the pastor at our home church, baptized us in the pool in my parents' backyard. It was amazing. Purely, wonderfully amazing.

As we stood in the pool where I've spent plenty of summers swimming, tears burned the back of my eyes. I was blessed to share my commitment with my soon-to-be husband amongst our dearest family and friends
as I acknowledged Him as my God, my Savior.
Jason went first as I looked on. Then, our pastor and Mr. Thomas baptized me. Feeling Jason so near during, undoubtedly, one of my most cherished moments was just as wonderful as I'd imagined. 
As anti-Pinterest and wet-haired as the evening was, the choice turned out perfect. And God shined through in those early moments of our marriage. He was present for the next 24 hours. And He remains.

"For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
-Matthew 18:20

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thanksgiving Thursday

Time for my weekly gratitudes.
A moment to count my blessings.
To verbalize my appreciations.

A cold that has come and gone.
Eating clean with support and help.
A new haircut to mix things up.
A scarf to wrap around a cold neck.
A birthday celebration with family.
Dinner with Mr. Thomas.
Sore shoulders after a day at the gym.
March and impending spring. (YES!)
Crisp and clean laundry.
Fresh produce.
Painted nails that keep me from biting.

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