Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!



Today was a pretttty successful day! I hung out with a pal, and did a TON of Christmas cookie baking! What better way to spend this gorgeous, white and wintry day than to bake some cookies!? 
So, I started Herbalife this past week (more on that later) but I still had this overwhelming urge to bake some yummy holiday cookies for neighbors and coworkers! For those of you uber healthy health nuts, these are some great cookies to give away as gifts! Let me tell you..there is nothing like getting some "vegan no bake coconut cacao cookies" as a nice gesture. I mean this in the kindest way: Those are great as snacks, but they are NOT cookies!! I mean..it's not like you are eating like 30 of em' at once..haha...Anyways! Point is that when I make baked goods for people, I make them according to THEIR tastes and eating preferences! A cookie is a cookie :)

So! Now for the recipes! The first one (pictured above) is a yummy version of this recipe that I found on this blog. The author of this blog is witty, and so hilarious by the way. She's the muse for some of my many recipes that I try! Instead of Cookie Butter, I used Nutella (duh). I have used Cookie Butter way to much lately, and have missed my sweet, glorious Nutella! I have included some pictures of the steps that I took to get the final yummy product. By the way, these cookies were all taste tested and approved by some honest friends!

The recipe is super simple, and only requires crescent rolls, spread of choice (Biscoff or Nutella), and some icing.


                                                                        Spread out your Nutella on your flattened crescent rolls. 

 



After rolling, refrigerate for an hour.




Slice, and bake on 350* for 12 minutes! 



Voila!!! You're done. Drizzle with icing, and you are set!


My next batch was an attempted imitation of a cookie I have come to love. Sodalicious has this amaaazing cookie called the "love child". I found this recipe on Pinterest and decided that it might come close! The directions are on the website, and are super easy!



crummy picture, but they are deeelish!

The next one is just plain simple. Ritz crackers, condensed sweetened milk, toffee bits, and cream cheese frosting. That's IT! Oh so simple, and oh so good. They are in bar form, but they are ridiculous. Got this recipe from Pinterest as well! (OBVI).


Next one is my version of this yummy cookie, Salted caramel thumbprint cookies. I used two different recipes...For the cookie base, I used this Averie Cooks recipe, and for the inspiration, I used this recipe that I found on Pinterest! Mainly because I ran out of butter..and this recipe required coconut oil, which I had! 


One thing about drizzling chocolate...You CAN'T get it drizzle ready without coconut or vegetable oil to thin it out. I was left with globs of chocolate. Normally I would care, but at this point, what the heck!

This Christmas wasn't the best because I wasn't home, but it was still Christmas! I got the one single thing that I really wanted..A White Christmas!


When I woke up this morning, it was actually snowing! The weather app didn't actually lie! 
Regardless of what you celebrate, whether it's Hannukah (which I didn't actually celebrate this year), Christmas, or something else, I hope it's been a great one! 



Until later, 


xoxox, 


Nat






















Tuesday, December 23, 2014

How I gave my problems an expiration date.

The past 8 months have been TOUGH. I mean I literally have been thrown every curveball imaginable. Life sucks sometimes, you know? People make it seem like that if you go to church enough,  pray enough, and go to intitute life will be peachy keen! The thing is...it doesn't work like that. I was that girl. I did that stuff. And I was happy! But I also had a completely different attitude. I was grateful.
Lately I haven't been the most grateful person around. Being stressed can put a damper on a persons happiness. I have been a little snarky and wayyyyyy too impatient! See, the thing with me is that I recognize when I am acting out of character. It's not like me to not admit when I am in a foul mood! Everyone has those days though. But, lately,  especially being that it is the Holidays, I have had enough of my negative Nancy personality!
So, truth time:
(an excerpt from a letter to my best friend, serving in the California, Rancho Cucamonga Mission).
*Names have been changed for privacy.
"I've been kind of slipping. I'm telling you, it's the singles ward. I don't like them! (The ward, not necessarily the people). I haven't talked to Katie* for a while, and I missed her a ton, so I randomly invited her over for dinner, because I made chicken enchiladas and homegirl likes to EAT. So we were talking and then we both said we had confessions. Hers was that she hadn't been going to church, was questioning some of the teachings of the church, and went to Starbucks and GOT. A. COFFEE. I mean, I'm not judging at all! She's amazing. But it just shocked me because this girl is drinking coffee! Life is hard right?? So... I told her that I hadn't been going to church (I wasn't questioning the church though.) and that I had been going to a different church....because I hate the singles ward and I haven't found one that I like!
We both had a HUGE reality check. And also decided to start going to the family ward ward instead."
Folks, life stinks sometimes. This crazy thing called life is hard for a lot of people and we don't always know how to handle it. I'm so grateful for friends that know my heart and that I know theirs. That we are able to help each other. Also, I want to point out to those who aren't currently going to church, who are struggling with their testimony, or who just don't like the singles ward: you don't HAVE to go. I love the people that I've met in singles wards. They are awesome. But I also have conflicting views on the whole concept of them. If you want to switch, talk to your Bishop! Trust me, you aren't the only one.
Enough of that though. Back to the real reason behind this post. JESUS is the reason for the season, and I seem to have forgotten that. Sure he wasn't born in December, but Christmas is always a good reminder of who he is and what he did for us. My problems are inadequate. They are futile. Compared to the problems of the world, I've got it pretty good. All of my needs have been met and the Lord continues to bless me, time and time again without fail.

So, how did I give my problems an expiration date? This:

I simply love this picture.


It is such a good reminder. The most important things in life are the ones that benefit others! That help others. I could tell myself this until I'm blue in the face, but it is so true, and I'm genuinely trying to work on it!


Well that's enough for today. I'm off to the Utes game! No, I don't like the Utes that much...it's a work perk haha

Xoxo,

Natalie

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Homesteading Made Simple.

Lately, I've been trying to transition from commercial products to natural, homemade alternatives. I have tons of recipes that I have gathered over the years, located on my Pinterest board, with the same title of this blog. This post highlights one of my favorite Homemade alternatives. Butter.
Now as a Northern Belle, growing up on the shores of MN, butter is a necessary commodity for ALL Minnesotan households. If we didn't have butter in our home, there was something seriously wrong. I don't recall a time when my mon didn't have the fridge stocked with plenty of butter. Or cheese. Or milk. Not that any of us drink milk (I'm lactose intolerant, and can't drink it. My family just doesn't like it). Anyways, my point is that dairy is a staple of most Northern homes, as it is in most American homes.
So! Butter! You can spread it on toast, on top of cornbread, bake with it, fry an egg with it, drizzle it on vegetables, the list goes ON. I am a huge advocate of butter. It just works the best when baking, which is something I do a lot. Recently I bought a pint of heavy whipping cream for thanksgiving recipes,  and had about 2/3 of it left afterwards. After racking my brain to figure out what to make, it came to me: I should make some butter!!
I've made butter plenty of times before, and it's the easiest thing ever. All you need is:

-1 mason jar (or old spaghetti jar)*
-flavoring (optional)
-salt
-small container
-Paper towels, or cloth.

Directions:

•Start by pouring your cream into your jar. No more than 1/2 full, to leave room for shaking.


•Begin shaking! It will take you about 20 mins total unless you stop for breaks like I did. It's tough work! There isn't really a science to this, just keep it vigorously moving.

* if you are using a standing mixer it will be a lot quicker, and as soon as the buttermilk comes away proceed to steps below.


•Once the buttermilk starts coming away from the fat, stop shaking. It will go from liquid to solid to sloshing liquid with butter at the center.


•Pour the buttermilk in a separate container if you are keeping it. Take out butter and rinse it well with cold water in the sink. Turn it out onto a paper towel covered surface and knead it a few times, to dry off the butter. This is important because it keeps the butter from rotting. If it isn't dry, it will get moldy quickly. Rinse again and knead on covered surface.



•Add your flavorings (e.g. vanilla,  rosemary, honey, lavender, salt etc.) and knead again. Pat dry with a paper towel, or clean cloth.




•Put the butter into your container. Put a piece of paper towel on top of butter container if you'd like to take the butter.


Voila!! You are done! If you are giving the butter as a gift, you can log roll it in parchment paper and add ribbons on the end. If you are keeping it, it will last for a month in the fridge, much longer in the freezer.

I hope this was an easy tutorial! Come back for more great recipes.

Share your comments below!