Salted Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Salted Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

I called my mom one afternoon to check in. It was the middle of winter. I attended college in the Midwest, and there had been a huge snowfall in northern New Jersey where my parents lived.

She picked up the phone, sounding slightly out of breath.

“Everything okay?” I asked.

“Yeah. We were just playing in the snow.”

“Oh fun! Were the kids over?” I said, referring to my nieces and nephews who lived in the area.

“No, just your dad and me.”

“Wait, what?” Just you guys?”

“Yeah. We built a snowman and made snow angels.”

My parents were empty nesters after having six children spread over 17 years. They had quite a few grandkids by that point, but I hardly pictured my nearly retired parents playing in the snow by themselves. They were supposed to be the responsible ones, the ones who went to work and kept the house clean and volunteered at church. Playing in the snow looked so...frivolous.

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!

Salted Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
Salted Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate-5.jpg

Read more and get the recipe over at Coffee + Crumbs!


Roasted Squash + Kale Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette [and why I celebrate]

Roasted Squash + Kale Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette

Many of us will gather around the table to celebrate Thanksgiving in a couple days, and if your family is anything like mine, there will be an abundance of food. We’ll talk and eat and laugh and eat some more. We’ll all go home with leftovers for a week, and you’d better believe I’m already thinking about the turkey sandwich I’ll make the next day. 

Thanksgiving dinner is the quintessential feast. 

Feasting demonstrates bounty, abundance, provision, security, generosity, beauty, enjoyment - all things we want to see and experience when we celebrate the holidays. But whether it’s Thanksgiving, a birthday, Christmas, or any other occasion we commemorate, we don’t just celebrate merely to eat, drink, and be merry. It’s so much more than that. 

As Christians, our eating and drinking and gathering around the table point to the ultimate celebration and the feast we will one day enjoy in the new creation. 

Isaiah 25:6-9 says, 

“On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
    a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
    of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
    the covering that is cast over all peoples,
    the veil that is spread over all nations.
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
    and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
    for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
    “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
    This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
    let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

The Christian community is the beginning and sign of God’s coming world - and no more so than when we eat together. Our meals are a foretaste of the future messianic banquet. Our meals reveal the identity of Jesus. Our meals are a proclamation and demonstration of God’s good news.
— Tim Chester, "A Meal with Jesus"

Whatever holiday it happens to be, we celebrate because we have the promise of eternal celebration. Our God will swallow up death forever. If that is not a reality worth celebrating, I’m not sure what is. We celebrate because we rejoice in the salvation we have received from God, for without this, any celebration on earth is temporal. But here on earth, we have the opportunity to depict the glorious celebration that we will someday be a part of in the new creation. 

God throws a party for his people, a party with the richest food and the best wine. It’s a feast incomparable to any we could enjoy in this life, but one we can look forward to with longing and expectation. 

As we feast now, as we celebrate the mundane or extraordinary moments of our lives this side of glory, may we do so remembering what is yet to come. As new creation people, this is why we’ll gather at the table on Thursday. Our feasts are a glimpse of the joy we have in salvation and joy yet to be revealed when we’ll sit at the table with Him and say, “This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” 

So eat and drink. Enjoy the turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie. Celebrate with everything that you have, and welcome others to your table. Let your laughter and fellowship be a joyful celebration that points to the ultimate feast we long for in the new creation. 

Roasted Squash + Kale Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette-6.jpg
Roasted Squash + Kale Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette-6.jpg
Roasted Squash + Kale Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette-7.jpg
Roasted Squash + Kale Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette

Roasted Squash + Kale Salad with Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette
Yields about 6 servings

Salad
2-3 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup pecan halves
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar (omit for paleo)
10 ounces chopped kale, hard stems removed
1 cup pomegranate arils (requires about 1 pomegranate)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Add the squash to a sheet pan and drizzle with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper. (Don’t worry too much about measuring here. Just eyeball it.) Roast for 25-30 minutes, tossing halfway through, until the squash is tender and slightly browned. 

Meanwhile, make the candied pecans. Add the pecan halves and the sugar to a small pan. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar melts and coats the pecans. Keep a close eye on it so the sugar doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Put the chopped kale in a large bowl. Drizzle on about half of the Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette and toss well. Let the kale sit for about 5-10 minutes, allowing the leaves to soften. Toss in the roasted squash, candied pecans, and pomegranate arils. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste and serve with the remaining dressing. 

Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette
½ cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
1 clove garlic, very finely minced

Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Refrigerate until needed. Shake well before using. 


Pomegranate, Cider + Lemon Mocktail

Pomegranate, Cider + Lemon Mocktail

Well, shortly following my announcement over a week ago on Instagram that "I was back!", the kiddos and I went down for the count for another week. After a nasty stomach flu (which I won't go into too much detail about), a trip to urgent care, more bananas, applesauce, and toast than I care to ever see again for a while, and being quarantined for what felt like months, we are back to normal - which means I'm also craving something different than Pedialyte or water. 

But pregnancy with Baby #3 means it's a season of mocktails for me - which, to be honest, hasn't been all that bad. I've craved sparkling cider the last couple weeks, and there's something special about making a fun drink in a fancy glass...even if it lacks your favorite spirit. 

This mocktail is a combination of sparkling cider, pomegranate juice, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. I prefer it on the tart side, but if you like your drinks sweeter, add a splash more cider. It's garnished with a sprig of rosemary, but to get more herb flavor, try muddling a few rosemary leaves in the cocktail shaker before adding the pomegranate and lemon juices. (And of course, if you're not avoiding alcohol feel free to add a shot or two of vodka.)

Cheers!

Pomegranate, Cider + Lemon Mocktail
Pomegranate, Cider + Lemon Mocktail
Pomegranate, Cider + Lemon Mocktail

Pomegranate, Cider + Lemon Mocktail
Yields 1 drink

1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ounce 100% pomegranate juice
3-5 ounces sparkling apple cider
Sprig of fresh rosemary
Ice

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the lemon and pomegranate juices. Shake vigorously for about 15 seconds. 

Strain into a cocktail glass and top with sparkling cider to taste. Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary. 

Notes: Want more rosemary flavor? Muddle a few fresh rosemary leaves in the cocktail shaker before adding the lemon and pomegranate juices. 

To serve a crowd, just add 1 part lemon juice, 1 part pomegranate juice, and 3-5 parts sparkling cider to a pitcher with ice. Stir gently, and serve with rosemary sprigs.


Eggnog Latte Cocktail [featuring FreshGround Roasting and Heritage Distilling Co.]

Eggnog Latte Cocktail

Can you believe Christmas is in a week?! I can't. Every year, I try to get the bulk of my shopping, prepping, and cooking done in advance, and yet every year it feels like I'm scrambling at the last minute. Oh well. I suppose if you wait until the last minute it only takes a minute, right? 

I need to make at least one more trip to the grocery store, and I'm kind of dreading it. It feels like it's about negative 47 degrees outside, drivers are crazy this time of year (especially in parking lots, it seems), and checkout lines seem about a mile long. I have to give myself a pep talk in the morning if I'm ever actually going to get the whole crew bundled up and out the door. Otherwise you'd just find me in my sweatpants the rest of the week - which I guess isn't all that out of the ordinary for me, anyway.

Anyone else in the same boat? Trying to get yourself motivated to finish those last few errands, but the warm house is just too inviting? Or maybe you've already gotten everything checked off your list, and you're ready to crash. Regardless of where you're at with your Christmas prep, you could probably use a good drink.

This cocktail is made with eggnog, vodka (it's extra good if you use vanilla flavored vodka!), and cold brew coffee. It's comforting, creamy, and has the hit of caffeine you need (or use decaf cold brew if you prefer). Make a batch for a crowd if you're entertaining, or just shake up one drink for yourself. (And if you're looking for the mocktail version, you can omit the vodka. The combo of cold brew and eggnog is still soooo good!)

Cheers!

Eggnog Latte Cocktail
Eggnog Latte Cocktail

Eggnog Latte Cocktail
Yields 1 cocktail

4 ounces eggnog (try this homemade version)
2 ounces cold brew coffee (such as FreshGround’s Black Ice Brew)
2 ounces vodka (such as Heritage Distilling Co.’s Elk Rider Vodka)*
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Ice

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for at least 15 seconds. Strain into a glass. Serve and enjoy!

*This also tastes great with vanilla flavored vodka in place of the regular vodka and vanilla extract.   


For this post, cold-brew coffee was provided by FreshGround Roasting, and vodka was provided by Heritage Distilling Co. All opinions are 100% my own.