An Ode to Snow Days {and a Recipe for Snowflake Cake!}

We've had a handful of snow days so far this winter, and I look forward to each and every one.

As long as there aren't too many back-to-back, that is. A girl has her limits, you know, and it would only be a matter of time before my sanity boards a flight to warmer climates. I wish I could go with it, but alas, I'm stuck here in a polar vortex with four crazy lovely children.

But snow days do bring with them a sort of magic. It blows in across the threshold in the wee hours of the morning, along with the frigid air desperately seeking refuge from the winter wonderland outside as daddy trudges out the door on his way to work. A gratitude and relief takes up residence inside our cozy walls as we anticipate a day of nothing and everything all at the same time.

Snow, as unwelcome as it can be after Christmas, makes room. Shifts priorities. It moves responsibility to the side and sets childlike freedom in it's place. It takes away routine and instead brings fun and excitement. It pushes work to the bottom of the list and chooses to showcase rest and quality time together first.

I know that every day can't be a snow day, but I do look forward to them with as much anticipation as my children. And I'll continue to cherish any that blow our way. So without further ado...

Ode to Snow Days
By Jacqui Roberts

Oh, eagerly envisaged days of no school…
Temperatures plummet, flurries swirl in globe-like
The freezing cold holds promise of lingering leisure.
Anticipated by student, sage and parents alike
We wish and hope and pray for an ensuing snow day.
With a penny under the pillow of each little tyke,
Pajamas on backwards, ice cubes down the toilet, 
Elation is well-earned upon receiving the call.

Cue the deleted alarms, warm covers and cuddles
To sleep in past eight and make a big brunch,
Which really becomes lunch, as time is muddled.
But there are no complaints, no room for that,
Only giggles and shrieks from sibling huddles.
Building forts, watching movies, sipping cocoa
Mom, enjoying the mess, leaves cleaning for later

Most of the day, that is, until the children must go
Outside to play in the soft, sparkling white
That fell all night under a cover of deep indigo.
The same sky, now a bright blue, offers opportunity
For endless tumbling, unlike falling dominos.
We treasure the impromptu gift, time to be together
A poignant blend of laughing, fighting and affection.


To continue the wintery spirit, I have a new recipe for you! It reminds me of a fresh dusting of powder on a chilly snow day, but words do it no justice...

You guys, this cake. I just can't even.

If you're a fan of coconut cake, YOU WILL LOVE THIS. Period. End of story. Even if you don't think you love coconut cake, you still need to try it, because you will now.

I started with iambaker's homemade yellow cake mix and made a few adjustments and some complimentary frosting. Her recipe is the best homemade cake I have ever had--infinitely better then the store-bought kind, and with ingredients you already have in your pantry. 

This is the perfect cake recipe for a snow day, but you certainly don't have to wait for the next one before you make it. Enjoy!

Snowflake Cake
{makes one 9x13 cake}

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs

Place all ingredients into a stand mixer (or a large bowl to mix by hand) and mix a few minutes until only small lumps remain. Pour into greased baking dish and bake at 350 for about 25 minutes or until the cake is fully cooked in the middle. Let cool.

And I have to say something else. I know that the ingredients call for regular, processed flour and refined white sugar (insert horrified emoji + thumbs down), but listen: IT'S CAKE. If there's one thing I've learned about whole-grain, non-refined foods on this whole food journey, it's that they don't translate well into cake form. They just don't. Believe me, I've tried.

Cake, by very definition, isn't supposed to be good for you, people, so just suck it up and use the flour and sugar. Because bad cake is worse then no cake at all. If you don't eat the whole thing yourself, you'll be just fine, okay? And if that's challenging for you, I have a solution: have a whole mess of kids and they'll eat most of it before you even get the chance. It works for me. 

Snowflake Frosting

1 stick butter, softened
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut {sprinkle on top}

Cream butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the vanilla, powdered sugar and coconut, mixing periodically until fully combined. Frost cooled cake with an offset spatula, covering evenly. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup coconut on top. Nature's sprinkles are the best kind!

My kids loved this cake so much it only lasted 24 hours at our house…

Hope yours do, too! 

October 11: The Best Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips

I know that "the best" may seem like a prideful exaggeration, but trust me, it really is THE BEST. And if you don't believe me, take it from my pickiest eater child, who exclaimed:

"Oh man!! Mom!! This is awesome!!"

So, put this yumminess in the oven to warm up your house on a crisp, chilly day, like today! I promise, if autumn had a taste, this would be it!

Note: The amount of pumpkin in this recipe will create a little bit of gooeyness on the bottom of the loaf due to some settling, which I happen to love! What is "pumpkin" bread without a lot of pumpkin, after all? If you don't, just use less pumpkin.

The Best Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips
{makes 1 9x5 inch loaf}

2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted {or one stick butter}
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each of ground cloves, allspice, ginger, & nutmeg
{or sub 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice}
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, optional
{but seriously, is chocolate ever really optional??}

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Coat your loaf pan with coconut oil or butter, whichever you prefer. Combine all the wet ingredients. Combine the ingredients in a single bowl in the order they're mentioned--no wet, dry, folding, mixing nonsense. Then stir in the chocolate chips. The batter will be thick, so after you scrape it into the loaf pan, level out the top with a spatula. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until center is cooked through. Let cool about ten minutes before removing from the pan.

For less fat content, you can substitute applesauce for the coconut oil/butter. And note that, as with all whole/real food recipes, it's best to use organic ingredients as much as possible.


And use the Pinterest button below to save it for later.

December 18: Mexican White Chocolate Chip Cookies

"Mom? See those little, tiny clouds up there? I think God's up there with those little clouds, & He's telling all the good guys what to do." {Clayton}

And I discovered what my problem is with cookies today while I was elbow-deep in butter with a little helper on my hip. My issue is this: I tend to view recipes as "suggestions" instead of instructions to follow. I look at a recipe to get a vague idea of proportions, and then, thinking I know better, add a little more if this, a little less of that, and some other things I think will make it taste marvelous. 

And usually, with just a little dumb luck, it does taste better. At least I think it does, at any rate. But I suppose I don't really know because I never made the original recipe to have a true comparison. Anyways, there are probably certain types of recipes, cookies for instance, where you are more likely to screw it up if you vear off the beaten path.

But I'm probably both prideful and stubborn, because I did it again today. But today, however, I came up with something marvelously tasty. :) We will call them Mexican White Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Mexican White Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup {2 sticks} butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cream the butter & sugar in a mixer until light & fluffy. Add the vanilla & the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition & scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Combine the dry ingredients & add them gradually until fully incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Place dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet by the spoonful. Bake for ten minutes. Allow to cool for a minute on the sheet after removing from the oven, then transfer cookies to a cooling rack.


November 23: Eva's Party & Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes

We had Eva's 1st Birthday Party today, and she liked the cupcakes!! Homemade cupcakes for the win! :) She was SO CUTE "opening" her presents! She was very opinionated, which kind of surprised me, and got excited about each and every one, wanting them opened immediately so she could play with them. She kept saying, "Mom!! Mom!!" I think she says that when she wants something, too, because she sure wanted those presents. Mom is a pretty universal word, after all. I have to say, I think she had a great time!!

I had some helpers with the cupcakes.

The birthday girl. I had a hard time getting a good picture of her because she wouldn't stay still!

Who turned 1? Who?

Little cousin friends.

Lunch! Pizza, peas, and carrots.

Sadie liked the presents, too! 

Happy Birthday to you, Happy birthday to you!!

Score!!! :)

 The aftermath.

Playing with her new toys.

The party was just a small family one, and I definitely didn't go all out this time. I had grand plans of "healthy" cupcakes with beet-dyed pink frosting and cute decor, but sometimes Pinterest is overrated and it's okay to just have simple birthday party. Can I just put that out there for ya'll? As much as I love all that stuff, I just wasn't feeling it this time. And she's 1. She don't care.

But the cupcakes, although not whole wheat, were homemade, very good, and even kind of cute. Here's the recipe in case you wanted to try them out for yourselves! The batter is silky, smooth, chocolatey heaven, and it produces a rich, delectable cupcake. I'll call them Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes because they have cinnamon and coffee in them. When my husband and I honeymooned in Mexico {almost 10 years ago?!?!}, the coffee they served at the resort always had cinnamon in it, and that's apparently a Mexican thing. So there you go. I frosted them with a homemade cream cheese frosting, but feel free to use what you like! Enjoy!

Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes
{yields 24 cupcakes}

1/2 cup {1 stick} butter, softened*
2 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2-3/4 cup brewed coffee, cooled
1/2 cup whole milk*

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the muffin pans with liners. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the bowl as needed. Once eggs are fully incorporated, stir in the vanilla. Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk/coffee mixture, beating well after each addition. Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until cooked through. *To make a dairy-free version of this recipe, substitute coconut oil for the butter and almond milk for the whole milk.

Simple Cream Cheese Frosting

2 sticks {1 cup} butter, softened
1 package cream cheese {8 oz}, softened
5 cups powdered sugar

Cream the butter until fluffy. Add the cream cheese and mix until combined. Add the powdered sugar a cup or two at a time until fully incorporated. Continue to beat a few minutes longer until very white, light, and fluffy. Yields enough frosting to generously frost 24 cupcakes. Then lick the beater, bowl, and spatula clean because it is Just. So. Good. I'm sure it has nothing to do with all that butter and sugar. Nothing at all. 

You're welcome.