DIY: Pumpkin Spice Latte-licious

I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw this. I admit, I am that girl. Unashamedly loving everything about fall and consuming as many pumpkin spice lattes as I possibly can every time this season rolls around.image

As much this season warrants jokes from all sides, I will embrace them wholeheartedly. Because I LOVE FALL. AND I LOVE PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES.

So, because I love them so much, I went on a search to find a delicious homemade recipe for them because I love you Starbucks, but I cannot afford your $3.95-$4.95 price tag for one of these babies all the time. I found a lovely little recipe from Heather at Farmgirl Gourmet. I’ve made this twice now, the second time adjusting it to my personal preferences. Also, I believe it is dairy free! My dairy-free friends need to verify that, because I know dairy is a sneaky little thing finding its way in ingredients that you’d otherwise never know it existed in.

What you’ll need:

2 cups milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk to make it dairy-free)
4 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract (I used pure Mexican vanilla–makes all the difference!)
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup strong coffee or espresso
canned whipped cream (exclude this if making dairy-free)

*and a blender, no fancy machine needed!

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Add the milk, sugar, pumpkin puree, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice into small pan over medium-high heat, stirring continually, until it’s almost boiling. You don’t want to burn the milk, but you want to make sure its good and hot.

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Remove milk mixture from heat and pour it in your blender. Put on lid tightly. Blend on high for about 2 minutes until the milk begins to froth.

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Divide the milk mixture between two LARGE mugs, then add your strong coffee, pouring it down the side into the mug so the froth stays on top. *Be careful to not add too much coffee. I was making mine with about half coffee/half milk mixture, and it tasted more like coffee with creamer and less like a pumpkin spice latte. Of course, play around with it and figure out your ratios according to your liking!

For dairy-free, you can add a pinch of pumpkin pie spice to the top and you’re finished! But for a truly decadent treat, add a spray of canned whipped cream on the top and sprinkle some spice for a truly decorative, homemade, delicious pumpkin spice latte.

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Enjoy! Have some variations or other ideas? Add them in the comments!

Happy Fall, Ya’ll.

The Safety of Self-Control

Self Control. Whoa, what an annoying word, right?

Our culture has painted the picture of self-control as something ridiculous. You would never see on the front of a magazine, “5 Steps to Practice Self-Control!” but rather something that look more like, “5 Steps to the Life You Deserve.” Am I right? Usually we grudgingly look at self-control as something that restrains us, binds us, and keeps us from the things we love. And in a way some of those descriptions might be true. But a proper view of self-control is necessary to appreciating it and understanding what God intended for us when He instructed us to live self controlled lives.

Titus 2:3-5 says,

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderersor addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

If someone challenged you to go without one thing for a week, what would it be? How long could you last? Social media? Sweets? Cell phone? TV?

Better yet, have you ever set goals for yourself in January (aka ‘New Years Resolutions’) and by February forgotten what they were?

“Self control is what we need in order to say no to sinful desires and what we need to follow through with godly desires” (64). Scripture is very clear on self-control. Its a fruit of the Spirit living within us. Paul emphasized it in Titus 2 as he directed every single group; older women, younger women, older men, and younger men. If Paul required self-control, that must mean it is attainable. So why do we struggle with it SO much? Self-control requires effort. It doesn’t come naturally or easily. We continually fail because we are attempting to accomplish such a grandiose task in our own strength. Mahaney reminds us that, “It is only as we cooperate with the power of the Holy Spirit that we will achieve self-control” (65).

God’s Word likens self-control to that of a protective wall. Just like in history when massive stone walls were built around cities for protection from the enemy, self-control protects us from the attacks of our enemy who would love nothing more than to steal, kill, and destroy us.

But why is self-control SO hard? To put it bluntly, because sin is enjoyable. We have selfish natures that are inclined to sin. The Bible is very clear that sin is enjoyable for a season. However, Proverbs 16:25 makes it clear: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Not exercising self-control in our sleeping habits (whether too little or too much), eating habits (making poor food choices, indulgence, or vanity), our thoughts and our behavior all reflect selfish motives and leads to regret and destruction. But by practicing self-control in these areas, we are protected from the ill effects of poor decisions and poor time management. Mahaney states, “When we recognize self-control as the virtue that spares us from sin’s negative consquences, we will welcome it eagerly as our friend.” (67)

In the book, Carolyn covers 4 areas where self-control is vitally important: Our Appetites, Sleep Habits, Our Thoughts and Feelings, and Our Behavior.

1. Our Appetites:

Whether eating too much, too little, or making unhealthy choices, our eating habits say a lot about our ability to control ourselves. A quote from Elisabeth Elliot ends with, “We cannot give our hearts to God and keep our bodies to ourselves.” (68). It is undeniable that undisciplined use of our bodies will hinder our service to God. When we don’t eat healthy, our bodies reflect that. The less healthy our bodies are, the less able we are to serve the Lord physically. On the other hand, eating too little or obsessing over our health is also not glorifying God with our bodies. The sin of vanity is no less serious than the sin of gluttony (71).

2. Our Sleep Habits:

Sleep is a gift from God. It restores our physical strength and resets our emotions. “God has designed our bodies to require sleep, and to cut corners may be expression of pride–an arrogant disregard of our God-given physical limitations” (71). But we can also love sleep a little bit too much (I might fall into this category!)  Proverbs 20:13 is clear that loving sleep too much results in laziness and poverty. We must make the most of our time. A lot of women  classify themselves as “night owls,” making excuses for their choice to stay up late and sleep in. But rather than using our evening hours for personal pleasure , we need to use that time to prepare for the next day and to go to bed early enough to rise ready to serve God and our families.

3. Our Thoughts and Feelings:

In our feeling-obsessed culture, we MUST develop a proper understanding of feelings. They are a gift from God! Life would be amazingly bleak if we could not feel. But because of sin, the way we think and feel is often contrary to what Scripture commands. We often need to tell ourselves how to feel instead of letting our feelings tell us how to think. Sinful thoughts and sinful feelings lead to sinful behavior. We must exercise self control in this area. 2 Corinthians 10:5 commands us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Remember: Just because we feel something doesn’t make it true. Our feelings are either ruled by truth or ruled by sin (75).

4. Our Behavior:

There are tons of areas where our behavior needs self control. But there is one that affects all the others. One behavior, if diligently pursued, will promote self-control in every other area. What is it? The daily practice of meeting with God. Call it a cliche, but cliches are cliches because they are true. By meeting with God every single day, we are acknowledging that we are totally dependent upon His grace. No matter what our circumstances are, intimacy with God in His presence is the rock that will empower us to fight our battles every day. We should eagerly and consistently respond to our Savior’s invitation to come and meet with Him. What a privilege!

All of this probably sounds overwhelming. Our temptation is to muster up new resolve and get to work. But just like New Years resolutions tend to fall flat when we try and try and try, so will our efforts in the area of self-control. That’s why we have to surrender ourselves again to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to accomplish it through us. John 15:5 makes it clear: “Apart from [Jesus] you can do nothing.”

Homework:

  • Think about the one area where you are most in need of self-control. What is one way you can apply what you’ve learned in this chapter before our next meeting? (Remember–not “all by yourself!”)
  • Make a plan to meet with God every day this week. Acknowledge your dependence on Him for self-control.

Pinterest Party for One

Tonight I had a baking party. All by myself. Usually for me that means sugar galore. However, I decided to go for BREAKFAST! I used to hate breakfast, but now it seems like I could almost eat it for every meal. I got to baking and realized that everything I was making was either a Pinterest recipe, or was inspired by a recipe I saw on Pinterest. The end results were amazing, so I decided to share the love.

First was the Banana Oatmeal cups with Chocolate Chips. If you know me very well, you know that I could eat bananas, oatmeal, and chocolate chips every day of my life (especially the chocolate chips!) and be a happy camper. So combining all three? Major WIN.

Banana Oatmeal cups with Chocolate Chips

  • 3 mashed bananas (the more ripe the better!)
  • 1 cup vanilla Almond milk (you could use skim but you may want to add a little sweetener)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp Baking powder
  • 3 cups (240g) Old Fashion or Rolled Oats
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp (42g) mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Mix all ingredients except the chocolate chips together, and let sit while you prepare the muffin pans.

Spray a muffin pan and/or liners with with non-stick spray.

Stir the chocolate chips into the oatmeal batter.

Divide batter into 15 muffin cups. They should be just about filled.

Bake 20-30 minutes, you’ll see the edges just starting to brown and they will be firm to the touch.

The muffins may stick when hot but are removed easily when cooled for a bit.

Makes 15 muffins.

Full recipe from: http://greenlitebites.com/2009/03/07/banana-oatmeal-cups-with-chocolate-chips/

Next came the Ham and Cheese Cresecent Rolls.

So simple, and yet, so amazing.

Literally, this is nothing new under the sun. Easiest recipe of all time. You actually don’t even need a recipe. But for those who feel better about bullet points, this one’s for you:

  • 1 package Crescent Rolls
  • Cheddar Cheese
  • Sliced Ham

Unroll crescent rolls and layer cheese and ham. Roll those babies back up and pop in the oven at 375 degrees for 11-13 minutes. Voila! Heaven in your mouth.

Makes 8 crescent rolls.

Last but not least, the Egg and Hashbrown Mini Muffins!

This is the recipe that I got the idea from pinterest, but completely made it to mine and Matt’s liking.

  • 5 eggs, scrambled
  • 4-5 pieces bacon (crumbled)
  • 1/4 green pepper
  • 1/4 bag frozen shredded hashbrowns
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Sprinkle cheese (I prefer Great Value Fiesta Blend)

Set oven to 375 degrees.

While oven is preheating, scramble eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, and green pepper together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pour or spoon into mini muffin tin.

Bake for 10-13 minutes until muffins have solid form. Remove from oven and sprinkle desired amount of cheese onto each one.

Place back into oven for about 2-3 more minutes.

Makes 24 mini muffins.

Remove and enjoy! Bon appetit!

The best part about making all this breakfast for dinner? Leftovers for BREAKFAST tomorrow! Brilliant.