THE OPEN BOOK

23
Nov

Thankful Chocolate-Cranberry-Coconut-Oatmeal Cookies!

Everyone else be like:

Snow…

Me:

Snow!!!

I’m one of those obnoxious people who LOVES snow. Every year, November rolls around and I’m crossing my fingers for a white Thanksgiving. Last Friday, when the flurries started to fly, I was literally jumping up and down at work. Yes, I’m that person.

The first snow ushers in some of the best parts of the year: holidays with loved ones, sipping hot cocoa next to a crackling fire, fuzzy slippers, sledding, skating.

Finals.

I’m there anyway, right?

Yes, finals time is here again. Everyone rejoice. I’m elbow deep into TWO huge projects at the moment (and have two more just around the corner! Finals projects are truly gifts that keep on giving), but have managed to thoroughly enjoy myself this past week.

Isn’t it gorgeous?!

For one thing, I had my speaking engagement at the Red Lake Nation College on Monday! To say I was honored to present at the college during Native American Heritage Month is a drastic understatement. Being invited by the Red Lake Nation represented a humungous achievement for me as an author, and really made me thankful for all the amazing opportunities and people Seven Stones has brought to my life. I had a fantastic time talking about my novel with the Red Lake faculty and students, and hope to visit the Red Lake Nation College again! Miigwetch!

We had about 50 kids team up and create awesome duct tape outfits on Wednesday!

After a five hour drive back down to Mankato, I was off and running again on Wednesday with my Duct Tape Fashion Show. I’ve been working super hard on making the library’s Early Out events successful, and this one might just be my favorite yet! The kids’ creativity and imagination was AMAZING to see, and everyone had a fantastic time watching the teams strut their stuff on the runway.

Needless to say, after all the excitement of the week, I was ready for a break. This weekend was nothing short of perfect. Shane and I made ridiculous amounts of good food, and he did mountains of dishes as I worked hard at hashing out a final term paper. In between eating and homework, we managed to go on an hour-and-a-half hike around the Rasmussen Woods on Saturday, and a two-hour bike ride along the Red Jacket Trail on Sunday. Though the temperatures hovered around 19 degrees, it was sooooo great to get outside and MOVE! We got back from our bike ride–chilled, but happy–and treated ourselves to hot chocolate, a bubble bath, and these cookies.

Look at all that deliciousness! Aren’t you thankful for this recipe?! 😉

I’m dubbing these my “thankful” cookies, because I’m seriously thankful I get to shove them in my mouth by the handful. Based off my favorite cookie from my old Co-Op in Bemidji, these bad boys have a lot of good things in them, like oatmeal, craisins, chocolate chips, and coconut shreds. They’re like oatmeal raisin cookies on steroids. And that’s exactly what I need to get me through a week of final papers and holiday traveling.

Soft, chewy, satisfying, with just a hint of sweet and a ton of oompf, I hope these make you thankful, too!

Julia’s Oatmeal Cookies on Thanksgiving Steroids (aka, Thankful Cookies)

cookie

adapted from Love & Flour’s Cranberry Coconut Oatmeal Cookie recipe

Ingredients

1 cup white whole wheat flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

1½ cups old-fashioned oats

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup sweetened coconut

½ cup dark chocolate chips

½ cup walnut pieces

½ cup Earth Balance

¾ cup Sucanat

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon and salt.
  2. Stir in the oats, cranberries, chocolate, walnuts and coconut.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Then beat in the egg and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix ’em all up!
  5. Roll the dough into balls (dough will be wet and sticky) and place them on a cookie sheet, flattening the balls into fat little (or, in our case, HUGE) cookies!
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes. These cookies will be slightly golden brown on the edges, but still soft in the middle. PERFECT!
  7. If you have self-control, allow the cookies to cool on a rack. If not, go ahead and eat one, but you will burn your mouth. I know from experience.

 

Suggested Pairing

A table full of your favorite people and big ol’ mug of hot chocolate!

Happy Thanksgiving!

09
Nov

Crustless Pumpkin Custard Pie!

Impossible Vegan Pumpkin Pie

The original pie recipe from the Fat Free Kitchen

Of all my many pumpkin loves, pie is number one. I’ve always adored pumpkin pie, but I can’t admit ever really liking the crust. Last year, I came across this recipe and my life changed forever. This pie is a creamy custard whose edges brown into sweet deliciousness–no crust required!

I adapted it slightly from the original recipe, and present it now to you: my crowning pumpkin achievement! Creamy, satisfying, and wonderfully spiced. As a bonus, my pumpkin pie is healthy enough to eat for breakfast! It is the perfect way to enjoy the flavors of Thanksgiving while still eating clean and healthy.

Julia’s Crustless Pumpkin Custard Pie

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups milk

2 eggs

1 Tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups pureed pumpkin

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup Sucanat

1/4 tsp ginger powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9-inch deep dish pie pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together and whisk well.
  3. Pour into the pie pan and bake for about 60 minutes. The top and edges should be brown, and crispy, but the edges should not be over-done. To check if it is done, wiggle the pie pan back and forth. If there is any liquid in the center, put the pie back in for a few extra minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before cutting. DEVOUR! 🙂

Suggested Pairing

Top with homemade coconut whipped cream for a delicious end to any meal!

I had such a fantastic time at the Waterville Public Library this past Wednesday, and am looking forward to visiting the Red Lake Tribal College next Monday! I am SO honored to be invited to speak about my book at the college, and can’t wait to tell all about it!

Have a wonderful week! Happy Monday!

 

02
Nov

Fill Your Cup

Look at that terrifying wanted witch!

This past week was wild, wonderful, and completely exhausting. Thank you to everyone who sent good thoughts my way on Wednesday–the Harry Potter party was a HIT! We had 53 kids attend Hogwarts for 3 solid hours at the library, and everyone had an amazing time. Even my volunteers! 🙂

Hogwarts Houses!

When the kids arrived, I had volunteers hand out Hogwarts acceptance letters to each one. Another volunteer stood in an empty picture frame and asked for the password. The kids used clues in their acceptance letter (and the Dewey Decimal System!) to find the password and enter the Great Hall where they were sorted into Houses.

Sorting Hat Ceremony!

From there, Prefects guided each House from class to class: Potions, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, and Quill Writing. Kids got to make projects or play games at each station. After classes, we had a feast in the Great Hall (chocolate covered wands, granola bars, and “rock cakes”) then finished the day with muggle Quidditch outside.

Potions Class!

I couldn’t have pulled off this feat without the help of all my AMAZING volunteers–especially Shane, aka, Professor Lupin. By the time Saturday rolled around, I was a bit rundown and felt a bug coming on. So, instead of going to Brainerd for a writer’s conference, I stayed home and rested. I was really sorry to miss the conference, but I just couldn’t make the 3 hour drive up there and back.

As I was checking through some of my favorite food blogs on Sunday to see what I had missed during the week, I came across this post on Back to Her Roots that made me stop in my metaphorical tracks.

Empty Coffee Cup

backtoherroots.com

In order to “pour” love, passion, and energy into your life, your cup has to be filled on a daily basis. Like Cassie (the author of Back to Her Roots), my cup feels a little dry. There are so many things I am grateful for in my life: an amazing husband, family, friends, career, home. But between moving, graduate school, and daily demands of life, my cup needs a little filling. So, here is what I’m planning to do to “fill up my cup” in the next few weeks:

Walk/Bike More

I love being outside anytime of the year, but fall is my favorite. On Saturday night, Shane and I walked around our neighborhood and took in all the Halloween trick-or-treaters and decorations. On Sunday, we woke up early and rode to the Mineopa Falls. It felt soooo good to be out in the crisp air. We are lucky enough to live in such a beautiful part of Minnesota, and have been taking advantage of the gorgeous parks around Mankato. Getting out and enjoying nature fills up my cup more than any other activity, so I’m hoping we can continue our adventures as long as the temperature stays above freezing (and in Minnesota, that might not be very long).

Yoga

I was so tired this past week that there were a few days where I just skipped doing yoga. The next day, I felt sluggish and yucky. Even if it is only for 15 or 20 minutes a day, I know that my practice will fill up my cup.

Go to Bed Earlier

As grad homework deadlines loom, my bedtime sneaks back a little later. This past week, I felt like I was waking up more tired than when I went to sleep. My goal is to be in bed by 10:30 to get enough rest to stay healthy and energized.

Write

I’m embarrassed to admit how little I’ve been writing these past few weeks. I don’t think I’ve gotten any serious amounts of writing done since the end of September. This lack of creativity drains my cup and makes me feel restless. BUT November is National Novel Writing Month, and to celebrate that I am setting a goal for myself: write every day. I don’t care if I finish the sequel now or in January. But if I write every single day, chances are I’ll see the finish line very soon.

Create Cup-Filling Moments Every Day

It could be talking to my sister on the phone, reading a book for 10 minutes, or drinking a cup of hot chocolate. Even when I’m super busy, taking that little time to enjoy the day and fill up my cup will help me appreciate all the great things that are going on in my life.

Finding a balance is always tricky, but I am excited to be taking the first steps to feeling happier, healthier, and hopefully less crazy. There will always be crazy moments and stressful times in my life, but deliberately making an effort to fill my cup will give me the energy I need to tackle it all.

What fills up your cup?

Happy Monday!