"The miracle of gratitude is that it shifts your perception to such an extent that it changes the world you see." -Dr. Robert Holden
If you have been following my blog for any time (maybe a few of you?) or have seen me on Instagram, you may know that gratitude is a theme I am curious about, hence the name "Wonder and Gratitude."
My personal gratitude practice started many, many years ago after seeing Oprah discuss her gratitude journal and the habit of listing 5 things she was grateful for each day before going to sleep. Off and on I have had some sort of gratitude practice. Sometimes I don't practice it regularly, and other times I am so committed. Last year I photo journaled a daily gratitude practice on Instagram under the hashtag #365grateful after seeing the gratitude video projects of two artists Hailey Bartholomew, photographer and the founder of 365grateful.com and Lori Portka, a painter. I encourage you to watch both.
I have found a gratitude practice to be extremely helpful to me in challenging times (and the past two years have been really challenging) And yet, even when I am looking on the bright side, trying to see the good, focusing on what my heart feels grateful for, sometimes I fail at it big time. Sometimes my gratitude feels trite to me, not as sincere as I'd like it to. My heartfelt wish is to have gratitude be the essence of me, to imbue my every pore with a feeling of gratitude and to have it color all my experiences and interactions with its grace. Lofty goal, I know. Maybe I will never achieve that but I'd like to try and move as close to that as possible for me.
Recently while scrolling through Instagram, I came across a book called The Gratitude Diaries: How a year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life. It's a New York Times Bestseller by author Janice Kaplan. I'd never heard of it, have you? It instantly piqued my interest and gave me the idea to host a virtual book club so we can share the gratitude journey together. Would you like to join me? You know it will be so much more fun and interesting with you along, right? Yes, definitely! ♥
To celebrate the first Wonder and Gratitude Virtual Book Club I am going to give away 2 copies of the book and one copy of this gratitude journal (keep reading for how to enter)!
So here is how it will work... Anyone who wants to participate will just buy the book from any bookseller they choose (disclosure: if you purchase using this link, I may get a small commission) or borrow it from your local library if available. The Wonder and Gratitude Virtual Book Club will commence January 2017 so you can get through the holidays and settle in with your book later. I will post my take on the book twice a month and we can all join in on the discussion here on the blog, on Facebook and on Instagram. It will be an encouraging, supportive and love-filled space to grow. I can't wait to see how sharing gratitude will bless us all! Ok, so now for the GIVEAWAY!!!
Due to shipping constraints, the giveaway is limited to only addresses within the 50 US states. Two (2) entrants, randomly selected, will win a copy of the book The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan. A third entrant, randomly selected, will win a copy of Gratitude Journal:A Daily Appreciation by Brenda Nathan. Here's what you have to do to be entered (any or all to increase your chances):
1. Comment on this Blog Post below, telling me where you're from and what you were most grateful for today in just a few words and/or
2. Like my Facebook page and comment on the Gratitude Diaries entry and/or
3. Follow me on Instagram and in the comments section of the Gratitude Diaries post tag TWO (or more) friends who you think would love to join you on a gratitude journey.
That's it! Easy, right?The winners will be announced December 15 and book shipped out in plenty of time for January 2017 book club start! I'm so excited and grateful to get to do this with you!♥
"If you are grateful for everything, then whatever you have is enough."-unknown
Thanksgiving is just a couple days away. Do you have your entire menu already planned? Well, if it isn't too late, may I recommend these potatoes? They are unbelievably good, ridiculously luxurious and all together worthy of any celebration. These are not boring, pedestrian mashed potatoes, these are pull out all the stops potatoes. They are inspired by the potatoes my good friend Suzi used to make with the added touch of a little bit of parsnip and with all the ingredients measured out for consistent results every time. They will be great on Thanksgiving, with your favorite roast chicken, meatloaf or as a pillow for a savory stew to be ladled on top of. I don't completely peel my potatoes, preferring the rustic look of the peel dotted throughout, but feel free to peel if that's your preference. These mashed potatoes are chunky and full of texture, which I love, but if you prefer a more smooth potato, use a ricer instead of a mixer to mash potatoes and then stir in other ingredients by hand once potatoes are riced to desired consistency.
Unbelievably Good Mashed Potatoes-serves about 10
2 parsnips, peeled, halved length-wise and cut into 2 inch sections cross-wise
2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 1/2 pounds red or gold skinned potatoes (Yukon Gold are my favorite, but gold-fleshed red-skinned potatoes are really great, too), peeled or not, cut into chunks
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cup half-n-half warmed, plus additional for thinning
1/4 cups sour cream
2 Tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 teaspoons each kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons minced fresh chives
1. In a large pot place potato, garlic and parsnip chunks, a generous amount of salt and enough water just to cover. Bring a to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, until tender. Drain completely.
2. Place potato-parsnip-garlic mixture into a bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment.on low speed. Stir potatoes until they are broken apart (the idea isn't to mash them into a cohesive mass of potatoes here. They should appear fluffy in texture). Increase speed to medium for 1o seconds. Reduce speed to low.
3. Combine melted butter and half and half . With mixer on low speed, pour into potato mixture along with sour cream and cream cheese. mix on low speed for 30-60 seconds.
4. By hand with a wooden spoon or large spatula, mix in chives, salt and pepper. You should be able to taste the salt without thinking the potatoes are actually salty. Make sense? Adjust seasoning gradually to taste.
5. Thin potato mixture with additional half-n-half until desired thickness is reached.
6. Place potatoes into serving dish and sprinkle with additional chives, if desired.
Wishing you a very happy and tasty Thanksgiving. May you have plenty to be grateful for this Thanksgiving holiday and every day. ♥
"The only way cheese is dessert is when it is followed by the word cake. " -Michele Gorman, Single in the City
It's hard to argue with that kind of logic, Michele! So I hope you are not quite sick of all the sweet posts of late. I promise something savory is on the way, and just in time for Thanksgiving, too! But for now, how about a pan of Cheesecake Swirl Brownies? In fact, any chocoholics on your Thanksgiving guest list will really thank you for thinking of them by having a plate of these for dessert (as opposed to some sweetened vegetable pie- really now). So to start off with you need to make these brownies. I have never tried the cream cheese version with the almond flour version, so can't attest to the results, but the all-purpose or gluten free flour version will definitely work. Once you get the brownie batter in the pan, then get to work on the cheesecake part. Have all the ingredients at room temperature so it will come together quickly.
Cheesecake Swirl Batter -enough to swirl through 1-9x13" pan of brownies
8 ounces cream cheese, preferably Kraft Philadelphia brand
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl with a whisk. Beat until smooth-ish.
2. Transfer cream cheese mixture to a piping bag or a gallon ziploc bag. Twist to close or seal. Cut off about 1/2 inch at the tip or corner.
3. Inserting tip of bag slightly into brownie batter, pipe evenly spaced rows of cream cheese mixture horizontally across short edge of the pan.
4. Using a toothpick, wooden skewer or tip of a very thin bladed knife, draw the tip through the rows in one direction and then in the alternate direction and so on until a beautiful chevron design is throughout batter.
5. Bake in a preheated 325 degree F oven for approximately 40-50 minutes until brownie is done (moist crumbs are on toothpick inserted in center (do not over-bake)..
6. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to a week.
Happy baking! Be sure to share! ; ) ♥
“I've never met a problem a proper cupcake couldn't fix." -Sarah Ockler
I'm thinking happy thoughts. They say the mind is so powerful if we can change our mind about something then we can change our lives. So happy it is. And what food could be happier than cupcakes, specifically, moist chocolate cupcakes? I mean, who wouldn't want essentially a mini cake all to him or herself? And let's face it, the ratio of frosting to cake is way better in a cupcake than in a slice of cake. We all know the frosting is the only reason to eat any cake anyway. So, all the more reason to love those little joy cakes. This recipe is super easy to make and you can frost it any way you please. My favorite ways are with a dense chocolate cream frosting (shown below) or a delicious , tangy cream cheese frosting. What's your favorite way?
Moist Chocolate Cupcakes - yields about 22 regular cupcakes
2 1/8 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon good quality cocoa powder such as Valrhona or Cocoa Barry
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable or melted coconut oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot freshly brewed coffee or boiling water
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F . Line 2 standard muffin tins with cupcake liners (22 of the 24 wells); set aside.
2. In bowl of stand mixer, sift together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, soda and cocoa powder. Place on mixer and turn on lowest speed.
3. In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla ( if using coconut oil, make sure milk and eggs are at room temp or slightly warm) until well blended. Add to flour mixture on low speed and mix for 1 minute on low. Scrape down bowl, increase to medium speed and and continue mixing for 2 minutes.
4. Off mixer, using a rubber spatula stir in boiling water or hot coffee by hand until fully combined.
5. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup , pour batter into each liner.* Bake at 350 F until cupcakes come out with moist crumbs attached, about 15-20 minutes. Do not over-bake!
6. Let cool completely then frost as desired. If using cream cheese or creamy chocolate icing, keep frosted cupcakes in refrigerator for storage.
Notes: If you live at high altitude (5000-ish ft above sea level like I do), make the following changes:
reduce both baking soda and powder to 1 1/8 tsp each, add in 2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce with liquid ingredients and increase flour to 1 3/4 cups PLUS 2 tablespoons and reduce sugar to 2 cups. Bake as directed.