September 27, 2018

It's an Apple Party to Wrap up our Flavors of Fall!

 

We're wrapping up our flavors of fall series with an apple party! I'm a big apple fan...especially when its paired with caramel!  Caramel apples are often my splurge when on vacation, but when I'm at home, I love to put a twist on the classic.  Today, I'm sharing my recipes for baked caramel apples, caramel apple cider and one of my favorite dips, too!

Apple Toffee Dip

This dip begins with cream cheese and brown sugar -- but toffee bits take it over the top! Adjust the amounts to your personal taste...I tend to add a good bit of brown sugar, but if you prefer tangy over sweet, just add until your heart is content!

Ingredients:

Cream Cheese (room temperature)

Brown Sugar

Heath Bits of Brickle Toffee Bits

Directions: Mix cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth. Add toffee bits and stir. 

Baked Caramel Apples

This twist on the classic is a quick and easy dessert and is delicious when served piping hot...with or without a scoop of ice cream!

Ingredients:

2 Apples (Serves 4)

4 Caramel Candies

8 Tablespoons Flour

4 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

1 teaspoon Cinnamon

Sprinkle of Nutmeg

2 Tablespoons Melted Butter

Optional: Caramel topping

Directions:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 8X8 glass dish with cooking spray and set aside. Cut apples in half down center (so that you are cutting by the stem). On the skin side of the apple halves, cut a small slice off so the apple halves sit flat in the baking dish. Using a spoon or small melon baller, remove seeds and create small "well" in each apple half. Place unwrapped caramel in hole.  In a small bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together. Gradually add melted butter to mixture and combine until a crumbly streusel is formed. If you have extra melted butter, brush on the open face of the apple. Sprinkle streusel mixture over tops of apples. Place in baking dish and bake at 400 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until streusel is brown, apples are tender and caramel is melted. Serve while still warm with caramel drizzle over the top if desired. 

Caramel Apple Cider 

This recipe has been a long-time favorite of my family and comes from Southern Living Christmas with Southern Living, 2010.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 cups apple cider

Garnishes: whipped cream, caramel sauce, ground cinnamon

Directions:

Stir together brown sugar and whipping cream in a large saucepan.  Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat 2 minutes or until bubbly.  Stir in vanilla and apple cider. Cook 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring often. Garnish, if desired. 

 

I hope you all have enjoyed celebrating the flavors of fall as we celebrated the launch of our sweet fall Ts! To see the collection, you can shop it here

From my home to yours...happy baking and happy treat making!

September 26, 2018

It's a Pumpkin Party & You're Invited!

 

I'll be honest, pumpkin isn't my all-time favorite flavor.  However, these recipes make me a pumpkin fan! The waffles are by far my FAVORITE and I will be making these all. year. long.  The doughnut recipe is scrumptious too -- I made them in my mini bundt pan and loved the results! They're really pumpkin-y, but the glaze tones it down to just the right amount. They were even better the next morning heated up for a few seconds! I can't take credit for either of these recipes, because when I find one that's great as is...who am I to alter it? I'll just share it instead!  :) 

Pumpkin Spice Waffles:

Seriously, you NEED to make these waffles! Like...this weekend. Or today!  I don't say things like that often...but these are that good! I cut the recipe in half and subbed all the milk for 2% and they were still delicious. I also omitted the clove since I'm not a fan and just did a sprinkle of ginger instead of the whole amount. I'm sure the recipe as written is perfect...but I didn't have whole milk and I didn't have time to do the buttermilk (#lateforfacebooklive). I topped these beauties with our candied pecans from our pecan party and a little syrup! Even my anti-pumpkin Mama LOVED these! I gave them 5 stars, but would give them 6 if I could! :) 

You can find the recipe from Just a Taste here!

Pumpkin Spice Cake Donuts:

 

I love a good donut -- or doughnut. But I love my mini bundt pan too! I decided to try this recipe in my new pan and they turned out great! I sprayed baking spray into the pan, put the streusel in the bottom and they came out without sticking! Super easy and cute...perfect for fall! Don't skip the glaze - it definitely takes them up a notch! Here's the recipe

Now, excuse me while I go dream of pumpkin waffles and fold our Pumpkin Ts that we showcased last night! If you'd like one, you can grab one from our fall collection here

Happy Pumpkin Season, friends! 

September 25, 2018

It's a PECAN Party!

It's a heated debate, that's for sure.  Whether you say "pee-can" or "puh-cahn" or both, there's one thing upon which we can all agree -- pecans are delicious! They're one of my favorite flavors for the holidays, and honestly, all year round. Growing up in the pecan industry, they certainly have a special place in my heart. There's something magical about a grove in late summer and early fall. You can see the crop in the trees, but the green leaves aren't done with their splendor and are still holding strong.  It's a beautiful sight to behold...but you know after they fall, the long-awaited season has arrived.

Maybe it's me being partial -- or maybe it's true, but I think the pecan is the crown jewel of all Southern delicacies.  And that's why pecan pie is a staple for every holiday table! 

If your family is like mine, certain recipes are...how shall we say...sacred ground? No one even bothers asking what my Grandpa is bringing (because it's the cornbread dressing, obviously).  You know not to infringe on the macaroni and cheese because your aunt has that one covered (and it's the best you've ever tasted). While we're on that topic, you have her recipe and you try to make it, but it never turns out quite like hers...golly, why is that?. Anyway, you know what I mean.  I have a feeling that pecan pie might just be one of those sacred dishes, so I'm here to help!

Today, I'm sharing several of my favorite recipes where pecans are the stars of the show. A couple of them will even make you think of pecan pie! Two recipes are my own, but I've found a couple of others I'll be sharing from other folks, too. I'm a big fan of my own/family recipes, but sometimes I find one that I want to share just as it is! So here we go - just look at all the yummy goodness we’re about to make. 

Candied Pecans: 

I found this recipe over at Dinner Then Dessert and gave it a try! It was scrumptious, so I wanted to share it with all of you. Toss the ingredients together, throw them in the crockpot, stir occasionally and three hours later...your house smells like a candy kitchen and you look like a professional candied pecan maker. You're welcome!  I followed her recipe to a T -- so definitely read her instructions. You can find the recipe here

Grandpa's Pecan Brittle:

For years, my Grandpa has made this brittle recipe and handed it out to our customers! It's a tried and true favorite in our family and my hope is it will become that for your family, too. 

Ingredients:

2 cups Sugar 

1 cup White Karo Syrup

1 cup Water

1 cup (or more) Pecan Pieces

1/2 Stick of Butter

1 Tablespoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon Maple Flavoring

Directions:  Prepare a sheet pan with butter or parchment paper (I usually add a little butter on top of my parchment paper). Mix sugar, syrup and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil and let it cook stirring often. At 280 degrees, add pecans and butter. Stir constantly. Remove from heat at 300 degrees.  Add baking soda and maple flavoring.  Stir and pour out on prepared pan. 

Mini Pecan Pies:

 

I worked every single day after school during pecan season at the pecan plant, so I got to know many of our regular customers pretty well.  One sweet lady "watched me grow up through the years" and we often talked of the sweet treats we planned to make.  She shared this recipe with me over 10 years ago, and I've been making them ever since.  It's super simple, but a few tips to keep in mind...

For making the crust, let cream cheese and butter come to room temperature naturally.  If you let them get too soft, it makes the dough too sticky to handle.  On the same note, dough should be crumbly, not fully incorporated together.  If over-mixed, it will make also make it too difficult to handle.  Just remember -- it's crumbly at first, but with you press it into the muffin tins, it will incorporate together. When pressing the dough into the mini muffin tins, be sure to leave enough dough in the bottom so the filling doesn't seep through and stick to the pan. You don't want the dough super thick, but don't press a hole into it! :)  Because of the brown sugar, the filling will stick anywhere it touches the pan (around the edges of the top too)!  Now, enough of the details, let's get to the yummy goodness.

Ingredients:

Crust

3 oz. cream cheese (room temp.)

1 stick of butter (room temp).

1 cup of flour

Filling

1 cup of chopped pecans

3/4 cup of packed brown sugar

1 egg

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease mini muffin tins with non-stick spray. Mix cream cheese, butter and flour with an electric mixer until a crumbly dough forms. Press dough mixture into greased muffin tins so dough lines the muffin tins (bottom and sides). Set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, combine pecans, brown sugar and egg. Mix well. Drop filling into each prepared mini pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until golding brown. (Make sure crust is baked thoroughly and loosen edges with a toothpick to pop out).

Mini Pecan Pie Muffins:

I got this recipe from a friend years ago, but lately I haven't been able to put my hands on it. My heart hurts. Sigh... I searched and searched online, and this is the closest thing I could find.  All I could remember is it was a Paula Deen recipe...so this is at least close! I've made this a couple time since and even though it doesn't taste as amazing as the original, it's pretty close. You can find the recipe here

 

I hope these recipes inspire you to pick up some fresh pecans and kick off fall with some sweet homemade treats! All of these are perfect for office parties, small group gatherings AND are perfect as gifties to let your people know you're thankful for them! Speaking of...here's the link to handlettered printable gift tags, too!  Consider that my way of saying I'm thankful for YOU...since I can't exactly hand you over a jar of candied pecans. :) 

So, Happy Fall, Y'all! Which basically means...happy baking and candy making! Oh, and get yourself a sweet fall T here! :) 

Blessings,

 

September 03, 2018

Labor Day Party - Saying Farewell to Summer and her flavors

I'm not going to lie, I am SO excited to welcome fall. I love pecan and pumpkin and apple and caramel and cinnamon. But, before I go full force into fall mode, I thought we'd celebrate the end of summer by grilling out. My dad is handling the ribs (yum!), but I'm taking care of the sides and desserts...so I thought I'd share them here with you in case you'd like to bid summer a formal farewell, too! I'm in Florida, so hopefully this will expedite the cooler temperatures. I mean...I'm totally kidding, but one can hope! 


Crash Hot Potatoes:

When looking for new recipe inspiration, I usually check Southern Living, Paula Dean and The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.  These old faithfuls rarely let me down...so, when I tried these potatoes, I expected deliciousness...and delicious they were! You can find the official recipe from the Pioneer Woman here.  I tweaked a few things to my taste and you can do the same too! Instead of using kosher salt, pepper and rosemary, I sub those out for seasoned salt, garlic powder, pepper, paprika and parsley! 

Nanny's Best Dressed Cucumbers:

Now before you run away yelling "noooooo....not mayonnaise," hear me out. I am NOT a mayo fan, but I make a few exceptions. And this. This is one of them. This is a quick and easy way to dress up fresh cucumbers in a matter of seconds using two basic ingredients + seasoning. 

-Mayonnaise

-White Vinegar

-Salt & Pepper

Slice cucumbers into 1/8" rounds.  In a separate bowl, whisk mayonnaise and vinegar together until smooth. Depending on your taste preference.  Mixture should be thin like a dressing, but creamy. Add salt & pepper to taste. Pour dressing over cucumbers and stir well. Enjoy!

Peach (eh...or Pear) Cobbler:

Cobbler recipes in the South are about as controversial as desserts come. Between lattice pastry, crumb coats, biscuit toppings and fluffy crusts, everyone has their preferred style. If you like a crumbly topping on your cobbler, this one may not be for you! I have to admit, this is by far my favorite, but to each her own!  This is the cobbler I grew up eating, and although I've tried the others, this one still takes the cake - or cobbler :) - in my book. The best part is it's super simple to make, all the ingredients are probably in your cabinet, you can sub out the fruit for your favorite and leftovers reheat really well! 

- 1 cup of self-rising flour

  • 1 cup of self-rising flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 stick butter 
  • 2 (28 oz.) cans of sliced peaches (or other fruit) **if using fresh fruit, sprinkle a little extra sugar on sliced fruit and let light syrup form**

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  While oven is preheating, melt butter in a 9x13 baking dish. 

Mix flour, milk and sugar -- stir together just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Pour over melted butter - DO NOT STIR. 

Mix peaches, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over batter mixture -- again, DO NOT STIR. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown on top. 

 

Bonus Recipe: PUNCH from the Summer Kickoff Video

This is my family's favorite punch...and we make it for almost every gathering!

1 large can pineapple juice (46 fl. oz.)

1 large can frozen orange juice concentrate  (12 oz.)

2 cups sugar

2 packages lemon-lime Kool-aid 

1 quart chilled ginger ale

*In a one gallon container, mix pineapple juice, semi-thawed orange juice concentrate, kool-aid and sugar together. Fill to the top with water. Stir until well-mixed. Chill. Just before serving, add ginger ale.  

I always add the ginger ale to individual glasses so the punch doesn't get "flat" after sitting in a pitcher in the fridge for a couple of days.  Also, this is great served with lemon-lime sherbet, too! :) 

I hope you enjoy some of my favorite flavors of summer! If you give any of these a try, be sure to share with us! 

 

 

May 17, 2018

DIY Herb Garden Project

I love being outside and I love watching things grow! I'm a farm girl at heart and nothing warms my heart more than harvesting and cooking fresh veggies from the garden! Now, if I'm being completely transparent, I must admit - my thumb is not the greenest in the world - although I wish it was! 

I've been dying to plant an herb garden for some time now, so I finally decided to give it a try!  Needless to say, if I'm going to watch these little darlings grow, they needed a cute little home! 

After a quick trip to Lowe's and digging in my old art supplies, I found everything I needed to do a terra cotta pot makeover and plant my little herbs! A quick whitewash and a light distressing provided the backdrop while hand lettering the names on the front finished up the makeover! To make it super easy, I'm including a tutorial as well as the template, so you can hand-letter your pots too! 

Supply List:

  • Terra Cotta pots (6")
  • White & Black acrylic paint
  • China bristle paintbrush
  • Round paintbrush (for lettering)
  • 220 grit sand paper
  • Pencil
  • Tape
  • Printed template 
  • Scissors

For a step by step tutorial, view our live video here! When using the printable below, save to your computer, then make sure to scale to 100% to print on "letter" size paper! :) 

March 27, 2018

My Favorite Carrot Cake

Friends, I don't know about you, but I LOVE a good recipe swap! So, today, that's exactly what we're doing - I'm sharing my favorite carrot cake recipe with you...and if you have a favorite cake recipe you'd like to share, send it to me! 

I just love a good 3-layer cake - and this carrot cake is nothing short of ahhh-maaaa-zzzing! I've taken it to three events in the last year and have yet to come home with anything more than my cake plate! I decorated this cake over on Facebook Live in record time (you can watch the video here - and the photos are of that actual cake - so hopefully that explains why it's not exactly perfect), and I promised y'all the recipe...so here it is! But first...I have to prove my previous statement:

See what I mean?!  Okay...you've seen the proof...on to the recipe! :)

Now, I have to admit, as any good Southern cook would do, I switch things up a bit. :) I follow the cake recipe exactly (with the exception of one change noted below) and I also make the buttermilk glaze recipe as it is written. I do tend to stir almost constantly so it doesn't scorch...which is slightly more than what they recommend. **(As a side note, the glaze may have a strange aftertaste - it will appear (and taste) a bit like thin caramel; however, I've noticed that the aftertaste is odd. The first time I made this, I threw the first batch out and made it again...only to yield the same result. So, just go with it...as long as you've stirred it a plenty and it didn't scorch!)**

For the icing, I do a complete switch-a-roo! I've never actually tried the icing recipe listed with the cake because I've found another cream cheese frosting that I love! I prefer a thicker, not-so-sweet frosting that I can pipe...and since I've found one that I adore, I just go with that! 

Finally, to decorate, I garnish the sides with with chopped pecans and the top with candied carrot curls which I've also linked below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag us on Facebook or Instagram - I'd love to see your creation. 

Recipes:

For the cake, I use Southern Living's Best Carrot Cake. *I follow this recipe exactly except for one thing - instead of canned coconut, I used sweetened coconut flake.*

For the icing, I use The Kitchen is My Playground's Cream Cheese Frosting - and it is scrumptious! 

For the candied carrot curls, Southern Living wins again! You can find the recipe and instructions, here!  Tip:  If your carrot curls start to stick to your wooden spoon handle, spray with a little nonstick cooking spray! 

So, there you have it! A few decorative tweaks and minor substitutions and you have my dream carrot cake! 

From my kitchen to yours, happy baking! 

Blessings,

July 30, 2017

The {Heart & Hands} Behind Handcrafted: Made to Create

It’s always amazing to me to see how people relate to handcrafted goods. Some seem to shy away from the extrinsic character of an item that clearly reflects the intrinsic character of the one who made it - and others are drawn to it - they bond with it.  It’s safe to say that I tend to fall in the latter category. I am drawn to the heart, the hands, the story, the details and even the imperfections that make the crafts of makers beautiful.

Perhaps it’s the nostalgia of it feeling old-fashioned in my hands, or maybe it’s the notion of something having its own personality - or maybe it’s something that runs much deeper.  As a Christian creator, my creative process is something I struggle to define, because it’s so much bigger than me.  There’s this place of solitude - of exhale - that seems to breathe life to something beyond my own mind, ideas or ability.  James 1:17 says “Every good and perfect gift is from above,” and while I see that verse most often associated with the gift of babies, it holds true for every gift - including the gift of bringing ideas to life - of creating.  Maybe that’s why I connect with another maker’s work - because I know it’s ultimately the work of the Maker himself - that’s the draw, that’s the bond.  

The gift of creating is not just limited to craftsmen either.  We were all made to create - our medium just differs. Before you argue and say you’re not creative - hold your horses.  Being creative isn’t a one size fits all title and it certainly doesn’t look the same for everyone.  I may not be able to carry a tune in a bucket or make elaborate sculptures - and you may not be able to make jewelry. If everyone made jewelry or everyone made baskets or candles or music or wooden furniture, the landscape of our world would not be nearly as functional - or beautiful.  We were all made to create, because we were made by the Ultimate Creator - and He made us to reflect His heart.  Some people are made to create impactful relationships, some to create new inventions, some to create a home with sweet memories for their children, others to create a bountiful harvest by working the land and some to create positive change.  Some are made to create art and others are made to create brilliant business strategies.  We are all made to create something (probably more than one something) - and there is one common denominator - to create something good.  

Only five words into The Bible, we find the word “created.”  “In the beginning God created…” and so it begins.  The beginning of time began with God creating something...from nothing.  And as we continue reading, everything He created, he didn’t stop and move on - until it was good.  First there was darkness made good by light.  Then came the firmament and oceans - which were made good when the waters were gathered and dry land appeared.  And so the story goes, God created the next something, and it was good. Finally, He made man and woman in His image - “then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good..”(Genesis 1:31).   

Creating isn’t always making something physically tangible.  Sometimes, our creations will never be seen by man while others may be displayed for all the world to see.  Either way, God sees and He knows.  We are all creating something. The question is, when God sees it - whatever it is - does He say it is good?  If you are doing it for His glory - I have to believe His Creator heart smiles - knowing that the creation which you have made is His very breath brought to life by your willing heart - and hands.

The {Heart & Hands} Behind Handcrafted is this:  we were all made to create, so make it something good.

Blessings,

March 26, 2017

I'll Carry You in my Heart: The Inspiration Behind our "In my Heart" Collection

Spring came early here this year. And by that, I mean winter.never.happened. With only a handful of nights below freezing and high temperatures that rarely stayed below 60, it felt like we skipped the season altogether (even shorts on Christmas were permissible). So, when March arrived, the grass was a bright green, the days were warm, the flowers were in bloom and the birds were singing daily praises to the Creator.  Then, a random late cold front plowed its way through our area leaving a brutal reminder that winter isn’t over until Mother Nature says.  

While I stared out my window at a blanket of white frost, I sadly knew that my flowers would fall and my grass would turn brown.  In those same moments, my heart was breaking because I also knew countless farmers were staring out of ice-covered windshields through exhausted eyes at a sight far more heart-wrenching than I. Their spring crops withered under blankets of ice - that no amount of last minute “frost protection” could save. Blueberries wiped out, bell peppers killed-over and peach buds knocked down - the sorrow of watching your livelihood and weeks (if not months) of toil wiped away in a few frigid hours. Then, after two days of cold, spring returned in its full glory - but small reminders of the recent cold snap remain.

As I reflected on this seemingly “natural” event, my heart felt there was a much greater lesson in the midst.  One that is often hard to discuss or put into words - life is filled with beauty, but it’s also filled with the heartbreak of loss.  In these moments, when we are looking out at a bleak sight, watching our hopes, dreams and plans vanish before our very eyes - it’s so hard to see the beauty of this life.

We all have experienced loss at some level.  But in the past year, I have watched several women - whom I love dearly - walk through a loss I can only imagine: the loss of their baby through miscarriage.  Some have shared their stories, others have grieved in private - but I saw them, and a part of me grieved with them too.  And I want to tread lightly, because ladies, I have never experienced a pregnancy - much less the loss of the life I carried inside. So, please know, I admit, I do not know what you are going through - but I have seen so many that I love quietly and gracefully grieve their babies’ lives. Lives that are significant.  Lives that are important.  Lives that were created with purpose, for purpose.  If we believe the Word of God, then we must believe it in its entirety.  Psalm 139:13-16 says,

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”  

I believe this is proof that in God’s eyes, every life is valuable. Every baby is fearfully and wonderfully made and God ordained their days before one of them came to be.  From the beginning of time, every child was known and loved - and He knew all their days.  But sweet mama, He also knows you.  He knows your Mama heart because He has the ultimate Father’s heart.  I don’t have the answers to any questions - nor do I claim to.  I don’t understand. I don’t know why.  But I do know this:  He sees you, He sees your pain - He grieves your loss with you.  And just like a late cold snap that leaves us staring out at a bleak landscape, the pain is real.  But just like the sun brings warmth and light to the land, His love will bring the same to your heart.  There is healing through His strength.  To every mommy who has walked this road - you are not alone. I see you, but even more importantly God sees you, knows you, hears you and loves you.  

I know nothing created on this side of Heaven can ease the pain, but I hope this new collection allows you to share your story - and the story of the one who you will always carry in your heart. It is my hope that each piece from the “In My Heart” Collection will do three things: be an outward expression of an inward love, pay tribute to those we whose legacy we want to live on and be a tangible reminder of God’s strength (Phil. 4:13) - even in the midst of loss.  

I shared the above because the first piece from this collection was made for a dear friend who recently walked through the devastating loss of miscarriage; however, it would be an honor to create a special piece that represents your story.  

Whether it’s the loss of a grandparent, parent, sibling, spouse, friend or child, know you do not have to grieve in silence and God’s arms are open wide - because in the midst of brokenness, His light can shine brightly through the cracks into the darkness. And just like the sunshine of Spring, His healing love wants to flood over you and shed light on the beauty left in this life - and the promise of the beauty - and beautiful ones - waiting for us on the other side.

 Blessings, 

October 23, 2016

Our 413 Favorites: Chocolate Chip Cookie

Whether you're talking sweet tea, mayhaw jelly, biscuits, roast and gravy, chicken pot pie or red velvet cake, the dishes are as diverse as the hands that prepare them.  Though some similarities will weave their way throughout each recipe, Southern chefs have their tried and true favorite - and more often than not, a written copy doesn't actually exist.  (Insert sweet little ladies saying they'd give their recipe away "over my dead body" here).  

With the holidays approaching, we'll be sharing a few of our favorites and what better way to start than with a true classic. The chocolate chip cookie is perhaps the most controversial of them all. Should they be soft and chewy? Thin and crispy? Only chocolate chips? Other ingredients added in?  Again, many will claim to have the perfect recipe, but I really do. Okay, so maybe it's just MY version of MY favorite, but I still think it's worth a try.  Southern Living recipes are my favorite, and I've taken their "Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies" up a notch and tweaked a few things to my liking. Have another recipe that's your favorite?  Send it to us!  We always love a good recipe swap. :)

Our 413 Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie

Adapted from Southern Living's Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

¾ cup butter, softened

2 ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

¾ tsp. salt

2 large egg

1 cup semisweet (or milk) chocolate morsels + more for garnishing

1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup chopped pecans, + more for garnishing


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  

2. Beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy (this can take several minutes - it should be pale, light and fluffy). Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat until well blended. 

3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in thirds.  Beat well after each addition.  Stir in chocolate morsels, then stir in pecans.  

4.  Using a tablespoon scoop, drop dough onto prepared baking sheets.  For an added garnish, arrange extra chocolate chips and pecans on tops of dough.  

5.  Bake at 350 for 8 to 14 minutes depending on your desired crispiness.  Stay closer to the 8 for softer cookies and leave them in longer for crispy results. After a few seconds, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool. (**I prefer soft and chewy cookies and have found that 11-12 minutes is perfect with my oven. The cookies will be lightly golden around the very edge, but the center will almost appear undercooked).  

Happy cookie baking, friends! And happy Sunday! 

Blessings,

September 02, 2016

The Truth in His Promises

 


Genesis 9:12-13 “And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:  I set My rainbow in the cloud and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.”

I was driving home this past week and it started to rain.  It wasn’t a downpour, but just a good steady summer rain.  As I rounded a curve, I looked up and saw the most beautiful rainbow - every color glowing in distinction.  The rain continued as I slowed down and stopped to take a picture. Then, as I began to drive on, within less than a half mile, the rain stopped.  The sun shone brightly through the clouds and the rainbow - His promise - remained unchanged glowing above me. As I stared in awe of God’s handiwork before me, it was in that moment, I felt God speak to my heart - “though the circumstances and surroundings change, my promises remain true.”  

Friends, our lives change with every fleeting second. Our circumstances are continually changing.  Our God, however, is not. He is the same God today that He was yesterday, and He will be the same God tomorrow. He is just as alive today as He was yesterday, and He will be just as alive tomorrow. His promises are just as true today as they were yesterday - as they were a thousand years ago - and they will be just as true tomorrow. Our circumstances change - our God does not.

I know - it’s a pretty basic concept.  But if this basic truth is so, well, basic, then why are we still letting our circumstances shape our view of God? Why does our perspective of God depend on our situation or our surroundings? It shouldn’t. “Though our circumstances change, His promises remain true.” I've heard it before, but we can’t put God in a box.  We don’t get to decide who God is and what God can do. Thankfully, the limitations that exist in our minds do not impede God - and He doesn’t want those limitations to impede our faith either!

Instead of letting our circumstances shape our view of God, our relationship with God should shape the way we view our circumstances. Our identity - who we are in Christ - should shape our perspective.  If we let our circumstances define who He is to us, then we will never fully bask in the peace of His promises. If we let our circumstances define who we are, then we will never fulfill the purpose He has for us. We will never have joy and true contentment because we will constantly be on a rollercoaster battling feelings of supremacy and heartbreak - a never ending cycle of highs and lows, trying to prove ourselves and cover our inadequacies all while wearing a smile and pretending we’ve got it together and silently shaming others when they fall short because it secretly makes us feel better about the hot mess around our own doorstep. (For the record, yes, I know that’s a run-on sentence - but when you read it, isn’t that how we feel sometimes - exhausted, stretched, run-on?)  

Oh, dear friend - please hear me, God is for you.  He is not against you.  It doesn’t matter if you’re in the valley, on the mountaintop or in the back of a cave unable to see the light of day - He sees you. He knows you. His promises are true for you...but you can’t let your circumstances define Him.  To take it one step further, don’t let your circumstances define you OR what He can do through you either!

Our worth, if defined by our circumstances, will expire with the next season’s newest edition. Your worth is not defined by this world - if you are letting this world define your worth, God’s heart is breaking. Your worth, your value, your identity - is found on an old rugged cross, where because of His love for you, His son’s blood that was shed for you.  That my friends -  when our relationship with God begins to shape our view of not only ourselves, but of the world around us - is when we can truly start to live. And in living, we are certainly going to walk through the rain, but we remember, His promises are true.  When we walk through the sunshine, we remember, His promises are true.  The storms will come and go, and so will the sunshine.  But when we are walking with the Lord, when we are clinging to the Rock, when we are clinging to His promises - the storms will rage (and the sun will shine).  Though we may be shaken, He will not move. He will not change.  When we build our identity on our relationship with the Rock, our perspective changes - our priorities change - our life changes, and you know what, the lives of others around us will change too.  So, don’t just “let” God out of the “box” when you “need” him to “fix” something - take His hand and let him lead you on your greatest adventure - pursuing His heart and experiencing first hand that “though the circumstances change, my promises remain true.”

“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” - II Corinthians 1:20

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” - Hebrews 13:8

“For I am the Lord, I do not change…” - Malachi 3:6

“ The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” - Isaiah 40:8

“For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?” - II Samuel 22:32

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