Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

I’m not the biggest fan of carrot cake. But when I saw these adorable creations, I willfully took up the challenge. And with that little step, I fell in love. Small and petite, yet packed with flavor, these little love bites will forever be in my heart. Make them for a birthday party or luncheon, or gift them to the ladies at Mah Jongg, like I did. 

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves (or ginger)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temp 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups carrots, grated

For filling:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees (high altitude areas: 375-degrees)*
  2. Mix all dry ingredients into a large bowl.
  3. In a second bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (4 minutes)
  4. Add eggs to butter mixture; stir in vanilla.
  5. Combine the two bowls and beat until combined (don’t over-mix!)
  6. Fold in carrot shreds.
  7. Chill for one hour.
  8. Line cookie sheet with parchment and drop batter in small, half-spoonfuls.
  9. Bake for 10-11 minutes.
  10. Let sit on warm cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring onto a rack to cool completely. 
  11. Beat frosting, using cream cheese warmed to room temperature.
  12. Once cookies are cooled, make little sandwiches and stack onto a pretty plate or cake stand (these beauties need a pedestal, after all!). 
  13. Enjoy immediately (within the day)… they weren’t nearly as good the next day. I’d probably freeze half next time. 

 

Like where we live, at almost 5,000 ft above sea level!

Sometimes you just need a little inspiration

 

Do you have a movie, a book, or a tale that inspires you? It never fails; every time I sit down to watch Julie and Julia, my heart settles into a puddle. I am inspired to create, to bake and blog. And to eat, with a side of wine in an oversized glass goblet.

True, it is not yet 2pm, but I am happy to say that I did, in fact, settle down mid-movie to a glass of red Zin, some smoked salmon and a few small wedges of Asiago cheese. The perfect late lunch.

Besides this culinary crusade, I am also inspired to write.

One year ago, I embarked on an exciting feat: A month-long detoxing cleanse. I wrote about it here, including recipes and a fair discussion on the challenges of preparing three square meals a day without even a trace of gluten or grains, dairy, corn, potatoes, red meat, pork, and most nuts… not to mention sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.

I couldn’t have done it without the daily pressure of my blog. Like Julie, I felt a sense of responsibility to my readers… even if my readers only included my ever-supportive mother and a delightfully dear hubby. Like Julie’s supportive husband in the movie, my own Honey Dude would ask: Do you have to write every day? Will anyone care if you don’t?

Maybe not. But I cared. It was a goal that only I could tend to. Do you have a goal like this? Something only you can choose to conquer? Like not having a glass of wine whenever you feel like it? Or telling your employees how much you appreciate them? Tell me about it! I’d love to hear what inspires you to be great. Or just to be normal, with joy.

Thanks for stopping by! xoxo

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found it. The perfect pumpkin cookie, soft and fluffy like a muffin top, and studded with mini morsels of chocolate. Divine, I tell you.

Of course, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone to allow a whole batch to sit on one’s kitchen counter, tearing down what little self-control they’d built… up to that point. Solution: Make them for a party. And leave empty-handed! Or take them on a hike and bust them out at the summit as a surprise for your friends (everything tastes that much better in the backcountry!).

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup applesauce + 1 tbsp oil (or 1/2 cup oil)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1-2 cups mini chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees; line cookie sheet with parchment
  2. In a small bowl: Mix together pumpkin, sugar, applesauce, oil, and egg
  3. In a large bowl: Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and cloves
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry; don’t over-mix!
  5. Add vanilla and fold in chocolate chips
  6. Drop batter in 1 tbsp increments, 1 inch apart
  7. Bake 10-13 minutes (depending on size of cookie and elevation)
  8. Slide parchment (with cookies) onto cooling rack when they’re done.
  9. Enjoy while warm. So, so good!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Mini Smoothie

Lately my sweet tooth has taken over. But sugar only satisfies for so long! I can easily go from the freezer stash of chocolate morsels to the cookies pillaged from a recent potluck gathering to a piece of toast laden with jam. It’s bad.

What I really needed was a sweet treat that would fill me up and nourish, too. Hence my new discovery…

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Mini Smoothie

  • 1/2 cup vanilla flavored Greek yogurt*
  • 1 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 tsp agave nectar
  • Several ice cubes

This makes a petite little power-shot of a smoothie – just enough to satisfy the sweet tooth and hold off hunger pains until dinner. Plus, the ingredients are simple and protein-packed… just what the doctor ordered.

 

*If you use plain yogurt, you may need to add a bit of sweetener. I recommend using more agave nectar or maple syrup to avoid artificial varieties.

 

The great “snow boot” hunt

I’ve become a bit obsessed. But that’s what happens every time I have to make a purchase above $40. I stress. And compare. And research. And stress some more. It’s embarrassing, really.

But Montana winters are not for the faint of heart. They’re treacherous. And as we continue to hear from the locals: It’s going to be an old-fashioned winter. We can only take that to mean: cold, negative-below temps and snow drifts higher than your house.

I don’t want all that snow to keep me indoors. Thus I need – yes, need – a good pair of winter boots. I felt guilty until my mom told me she had boots “this high, this high, and this high,” depending on the conditions.

I’m waiting to find the perfect boot. Will I ever find it? For now, a few contenders:

LL. Bean Carrabassett Snow Boots

L.L. Bean Carrabassett Snow Boots

Sorel Conquest Carly Boot

Sorel Conquest Carly Boot

Sorel 88 Boot

Sorel 88 Boot

Patagonia Wintertide High Boot

Patagonia Wintertide High Boot

The North Face Jozie Purna Boot

The North Face Jozie Purna Boot

The North Face Shellista Lace Luxe Boot

The North Face Shellista Lace Luxe Boot

The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Sport Boot

The Original Muck Boot Company Arctic Sport Boot

What’s your favorite?

 

 

 

 

DIY Kitchen Cork Board

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Summer always brings an onslaught of invitations, from weddings to baby showers plus graduation and good old-fashioned summer gatherings. In an effort to protect my fridge from looking overwhelmingly crowded, I decided to make a little announcement board for the kitchen using some plain cork board and a large picture frame, both sitting unused in my cupboards, along with some craft letters leftover from another craft project.

I liked the white frame, so I didn’t paint it. But I did choose to bring in some kitchen colors as accents. I had a red check fabric and replicated the brick red and mustard yellow simply using craft paint and a sponge brush on the letters. Then, all you really need is a pair of scissors, hot glue, and a few push pins to use on the finished product.

The result was exactly what I wanted: A place to put all of those festive party reminders, mixed with a splash of fun. Plus, it was easy-peasy. I recommend it!

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That about wraps it up! Simple as that. Let me know if you made yourself a little DIY kitchen board of your own! xo

Infertility? Fake it til you make it.

The waiting game is hard enough. But the latest insult came when recently rejected by our health care provider.

“Sorry, we can’t see you,” they said. “Call back when you’ve been trying for at least 13 months.” I was disgusted. “What? Are you kidding?” I asked. “I’m telling you we want to come in and pay you to look over this issue. And you’re rejecting us this freedom?”

Yep. They did. They rejected us.

At least let us get a leg up on the issue. Let us meet with someone and hear some options, for crying out loud (oh, and I will, let me tell you; I’ll wail loud and ugly-faced).

mom-with-toddler-at-the-beachIn truth, I’m trying to just push the whole thing out of my mind, to fake it ’til I make it. But it’s awfully difficult. Especially when you’re at the beach and you see the happiest little family photo session happening in front of you, followed by mom and dad grasping their toddler’s chubby little hands and running towards the splashing waves like a movie trailer scene set to a ballad by Bette Midler. I lost it with that one. Totally lost it like I didn’t even know what hit me. Open-mouthed crying, deep hurt and longing pouring from my heart like a wave of little sea shells washed to shore. Kyle-Fleming-Photography-Family-walking-down-beach-sunset

Before then, I thought I’d been free of it. I thought I had settled that score and left it up to God. I would trust Him and His plan, I told myself. I wouldn’t fret, wouldn’t worry, wouldn’t track my ovulation or even care, for that matter. But it was all in vain. I couldn’t fake it at all.

So now I’m in this place where I’m not sure what to do. I suppose I need to keep trying to surrender it to God. Daily! But I also need to allow the tears to flow. I don’t want to fake it. Because it’s a lie. The truth is: I’m struggling. It’s OK to admit it, even when I know what I should believe and who I should hope in. I wish I had it all together and practiced what I preached. But it’s hard to trust God on this one. Because what if He doesn’t grant me my wish? What then? Does that mean I will miss out on the adventure completely? Even if He has other plans for us, better plans, can I swallow the pill? Can I take the cup?

My Jesus did. He took the cup. He didn’t want to, but he did…out of obedience, surrender, submission to what God was asking of Him. Still, he prayed in the garden  just prior to his arrest and persecution: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). He later tells his disciples, perhaps identifying his own struggles: “The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak” (v 38).

So weak. Willing, yet so weak.

That is my prayer. I shall write it on my heart and whisper it in my bed. Abba, Daddy, please take this from me. Yet not my will, but yours. I am weak and selfish; help me to surrender even when I do not understand.