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December 2015

Chocolate Hazelnut Latte Cookies {Grain Free Cookie Recipe}

When we attend a “get together,” I always like to take a sweet treat that’s healthy but hopefully, not one that tastes healthy (and of course, one that will get rave reviews!).  You know what I mean?  I’m happy when someone else says, “Oh, yay, an allergy-friendly something I can have!”  This grain-free cookie recipe fits the bill.  We attended a book swap recently and these were all gone within minutes (in my defense, I DID warn the mamas that they contained espresso!  I can’t be held responsible for the aftermath, can I?).   Speaking of book swaps, did I mention how my Blue won my heart for the thousandth time the other day?  We were snuggled together, our books in hand, and he sniffed his book and sighed.  “Mama, (as if this was a new revelation) did you ever notice how old books have a special smell?  I love it.”  Be still, my heart.

 

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They’re a cookie that you can enjoy almost-guilt-free for breakfast, because they’ve got nourishing ingredients.  Plus, they’ve got your morning coffee mixed right in!

 

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If you like (we always do), freeze half the dough in cookie-sized scoops and save it away for another day.

 

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I’ve called the chocolate chips optional, but really, should extra chocolate ever be optional?  You could, however, substitute chocolate chunks, dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans, or cacao nibs.  Always an option.

 

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Make these, and let me know what you think!

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Latte Cookies {Grain Free Cookie Recipe}
 
Prep time
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A grain-free, naturally sweetened cookie flavored with cocoa, cinnamon, and hazelnut that is Paleo friendly and gluten-free.
Author:
Recipe type: Paleo
Serves: 24 cookies
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon hazelnut extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 2 cups hazelnut or cashew flour (may substitute almond flour)
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl with electric mixer, beat together eggs with oil, maple syrup, hazelnut extract and cinnamon.
  3. Add espresso powder and nut flour and mix till combined.
  4. Scrape sides of bowl and add tapioca flour, cocoa, soda and salt, mixing again just until combined.
  5. Stir (by hand) chocolate chips into batter.
  6. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto lined cookie sheet, about 1-1/2 inches apart.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or just until tops are firm.

 

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Christmas Trees and Making Memories {South Jersey Family Portraits}

As a portrait photographer, I have always enjoyed having the eyes of a mama when I photograph my clients: hunting for the “real moments,” finding the “real person” when making an image.  It’s a funny thing (and not, I may add, at all relaxing), to try to create those images when I’m in them.  I have had the rare privilege of catching the hearts of my children in their eyes, and they are gracious to me when it comes time for portraits.  But working to see myself at my “best angle” isn’t easy.  And while my sweet mom-in-law was on hand to press the shutter when we set up the shots, I’m not thinking it was too relaxing for her, either.  (Note to self: next year, hire a good photographer you trust who has both the “heart” and the technical skill.  So you can relax and be in the moment.  Even if you have patient kids and a sweet husband who will go the extra mile because they know it’s important.)  Still, I know a few things about family portraits…

 

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As a professional and even more as a woman, I love photography because it’s an important part of the legacy I am called to leave.  I’ve told brides, “I’m shooting for you, sure, on your day, but even more, I’m shooting for your grandbabies, so they’ll know who you were and be able to embrace their story through you!”  This holds especially true for our portraits, because when I look at them hanging on our walls, I relive that giggle, the rare gift of a smile from our serious one, the mischievous twinkle in Blue’s eyes; the goofy banter of the brothers, the wise tenderness in our girl, and even the awkward smooch my husband and I insist on sharing to the utter embarrassment of our kids.

 

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I notice, as my girl pointed out, that my husband gets his soft-hearted-easy-to-cry tendencies from his mama, and that they clasped each other exactly the same way when they wiped away the tears and squeezed each other tightly…

 

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…and how much my little-girl-best-friend looks like her Nana, and how they have a special rhythm to their relationship that’s all its own.

 

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…and I don’t even so much mind when I forget to strike a flattering pose, because I’m just in the moment.

 

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When I look at these photos in our album someday, I’ll remember how our college boy stole quiet moments with each of his siblings on his first visit home as a freshman, and how they coveted that time with him.

 

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I’ll be awed that the mama who was so scared of becoming a parent, was graced with a quiver full of arrows who daily dare me to be a stronger, gentler, wiser woman.

 

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I’ll treasure the joy that comes out of my more reserved one when he gives us the privilege to be in the moment with him.

 

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I’ll also remember the mad dash for a few new pieces of clothing for portraits (and the fact that most of what we already owned was perfect)… and seeing how grown up my girl looked that day, and how the flying of time overwhelmed me.

 

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I’ll hold onto the silliness of the moment of cutting down a tree in good clothes, how big brothers are the best fashion advisors, and how mini Christmas trees make good temporary closets for bare-chested little boys who want to get serious about a new tradition.

 

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When I see these images, I’m reminded of the gift of time with my mom-in-law, the missing of Papa, who was off hunting, the Thanksgiving meals we’ve whipped up together, the family who aren’t here, the first time we got to cut down our own tree (“the biggest one we can find!!”, they said), the wonderful forestry professor who helped us know what kind of tree we should buy, and the tv-less mornings on the sofa reading our Jesse Tree devotional and talking about what really matters about Christmas.  And my favorite image of all is the one where I’m not “pretty,” but I’m full of joy at these people who bring me to my knees and who, by God’s unmistakable grace, perfectly-imperfectly teach me about love.

 

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Merry Christmas, friend.  Whatever your background, whatever your status in life, I’m praying with all that I am, that you know the Love of the One who went to a tree on your behalf and mine.  I’m praying that you’re making memories and capturing them, and soaking in the love of the Light of the World.  Sending you a big hug.

 

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Are you a mama who thinks you don’t look good enough to be in your family portraits?  This article captured my attention, and it’s the cry of my heart for my mama friends.  I promise – my kids see me with eyes of love, and they think I’m beautiful.  They’d be missing out if they grew up with no images of their mama, or of our times together.  From one girl to another, here’s my dare for you this year: get yourself in front of a camera – I promise – it’s worth leaving as part of your legacy.

 

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Rebecca Stubbs, The Vicar’s Daughter {Inspirational Fiction Review}

Recently, I received a copy of the book Rebecca Stubbs, The Vicar’s Daughter (by Hannah Buckland) from Ambassador International, and i was immediately swept up into the character of Rebecca, whose life is not just a pretty story, but a well-developed plot and characters, and a journey into heart and soul.

 

With the popularity of “period” movies and shows increasing, I’ve enjoyed delving into history through entertainment, and in the conversations they bring up.  I’m also, as a mama of teenagers (and younger ones at “higher” reading levels) always looking for books that are just plain fun to read, but have a redeeming value (and am I the only one who notices how hard that’s getting to be?).

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Rebecca Stubbs does just that.  I enjoyed following the life of a woman who exemplifies character traits like wisdom, humility, and tenderness.  She’s a strong woman who’s growing in faith, she’s a bit of a romantic with firmly planted feet (and ideals), and she’s servant hearted.  When life deals her a difficult blow (the death of her parents in an era when women have few options within their level of society), she works hard to make a way for herself, keeping her heart open to God’s blessings and her hopes set on what He wills for her.

 

Hannah Buckland has created a sweet character study and a story that’s fun to read, and one I can’t wait to share with my daughter.