This sweet picture book written by singer-songwriter and mama Ellie Holcomb is sure to become a family favorite!
Reviews

Book Review: Who Sang the First Song

This sweet picture book written by singer-songwriter and mama Ellie Holcomb is sure to become a family favorite!

This sweet picture book written by singer-songwriter and mama Ellie Holcomb is sure to become a family favorite!

description of the book from the publisher:

In this engaging board book with whimsical art, singer/songwriter Ellie Holcomb asks a childlike question and answers with a lovely lyrical tale that shows young readers that God our Maker sang the first song, and He created us all with a song to sing.

As usual, my five point review:

  • If you’ve ever heard Ellie Holcomb’s music, you know that her lyrics absolutely point to God and her voice is beautiful. That is clearly true of her writing as well! This sweet story–the result of a mother’s desire to answer her child’s question of “who sang the first song?” is full of God’s truth and His love, simply shared to connect with children.
  • In addition to the wonderful writing, the illustrations by Kayla Harren, are fantastic! They’re full of intricate detail–a variety of animals, children of every color of the rainbow, and gorgeous scenery enhance this book. There’s even a mama wearing her baby in a wrap! (Swoon.) As we read the book together, my son loves to point out his favorite whale or the cute little girl’s ponytail swinging as she runs.
  • Reviews for children’s books usually center on the story and illustrations, but Ellie has a little something extra special for her audience. She wrote and recorded an album to correspond with the book!! Sing: Creation Songs is the perfect addition to this sweet book. My little boy is a tough cookie when listening to music, but when I put the album on the other day, he smiled up at me and said, “Mama, Iike this song.” *insert heart eye emoji here*
  • The message of this book is just what I want to instill in my son–that the Father loves him and that he is His. I am just so in love with this book!! It’s not another “celebrity writes a book” but a truly wonderful story that resonates with children and parents alike.
  • If you are looking for a gift for the under six crowd… this is it! From baby showers to holidays to birthdays, this is a lovely, well made book with a great message. Highly recommend for girls and boys alike!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from B&H/Lifeway Bloggers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to B&H/Lifeway for the chance to read this great book!

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This beautiful book is for you. Even if you don't think it is. Definitely worth the read, no matter how dissimilar your life/experiences are from Jackie Hill Perry's.  Book review of Gay Girl, Good God on thepajamachef.com
Reviews

Book Review:  Gay Girl, Good God

This beautiful book is for you. Even if you don’t think it is. Definitely worth the read, no matter how dissimilar your life/experiences are from Jackie Hill Perry’s. 

This beautiful book is for you. Even if you don't think it is. Definitely worth the read, no matter how dissimilar your life/experiences are from Jackie Hill Perry's.  Book review of Gay Girl, Good God on thepajamachef.com

description of the book from the publisher:

“I used to be a lesbian.”

In Gay Girl, Good God, author Jackie Hill Perry shares her own story, offering practical tools that helped her in the process of finding wholeness. Jackie grew up fatherless and experienced gender confusion. She abused marijuana, loved pornography, and embraced both masculinity and homosexuality with every fiber of her being. She knew that Christians had a lot to say about all of the above. But was she supposed to change herself? How was she supposed to stop loving women, when homosexuality felt more natural to her than heterosexuality ever could?

At age 19, Jackie came face-to-face with what it meant to be made new. And not in a church, or through contact with Christians—God broke in and turned her heart towards Him right in her own bedroom in light of His gospel.

Read in order to understand. Read in order to hope. Or read in order, like Jackie, to be made new.

As usual, my five point review:

  • This beautiful book is for you. Even if you don’t think it is. Jackie Hill Perry has a way with words (she is a spoken word artist, after all!) so the writing is absolutely wonderful. I first heard Jackie on a podcast (or six) sometime in the past year. Though her story and background are not really similar to mine, she is captivating. Every word in this book radiates truth, love, and the Gospel–just as is it does when she’s being interviewed on a podcast. She is nothing but genuine. That is why I wanted to read and review this book… even though I was (and am) scared of what others might think. I know not everyone will agree with me for liking this book, whether they’re Christians or not, but that’s okay.
  • The best part of this book is Jackie’s high regard for scripture and for the truth of Gospel. Each page, each chapter, and each part of her story indicate that God is calling himself to us, no matter what our struggles are (with sexuality or anything else). I found myself analyzing my own life and how I fall short of God’s commands frequently throughout Jackie’s story because she made a memoir about leaving a lesbian lifestyle and gravitating to Jesus about so much more than sexuality. She made it about Jesus and His call to follow Him. And what more can you ask for? It’s unbelief that’s the problem, not a specific sin.
  • Jackie’s memoir is written and filled with so much love. She doesn’t seek to shame anyone, not even herself, for their attractions and sins–no matter what they are. Practically speaking, this book provides lots of helpful tips for understanding and responding to Christians specifically struggling with homosexuality. These tips are woven into her story as well as clearly laid out in the last section of the book.
  • Also, this may be small… but this memoir reads like fiction. Though I read it over my lunch break for a couple weeks at work, this is totally a book I could see reading in an afternoon with a cup of cocoa. It’s a fast read, but one I’m sure I will return to time and time again to savor.
  • All in all, this is a great book. I’m sure this book is controversial in some circles and is probably getting some negative feedback, because things related to this sort of thing, written from a Christian point of view, typically do. But I really think everyone should read this book, regardless of their sexuality and faith. It will challenge you and make you think. I’m so glad I got to read it!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from B&H/Lifeway Bloggers. However, I was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed above are entirely my own. Thanks to B&H/Lifeway for the chance to read this great book!

Roasted parsnips make a great soup... with white chocolate as an accent flavor! This soup is surprising and delicious, thanks to the rich, quality chocolates from Forte Artisan Chocolates, a sponsor for this year's #Choctoberfest.
Main Dishes, Recipes, Soups

#Choctoberfest: White Chocolate Parsnip Soup

Roasted parsnips make a great soup… with white chocolate as an amazing accent flavor! This soup is surprising and delicious, thanks to the rich, quality chocolates from Forte Artisan Chocolates, a sponsor for this year’s #Choctoberfest. 

Roasted parsnips make a great soup... with white chocolate as an accent flavor! This soup is surprising and delicious, thanks to the rich, quality chocolates from Forte Artisan Chocolates, a sponsor for this year's #Choctoberfest.

Announcement, announcement, announcement! Guess what!? Today is the last day of #Choctoberfest 2018… but you can still enter the giveaway (over $400 of prizes!) so get to it! 🙂 And then get back here for a yummy SAVORY chocolate recipe! Today’s recipe was inspired by the amazing and versatile chocolates made by Forte Artisan Chocolates, another one of our generous #Choctoberfest sponsors. I was fortunate enough to receive some samples of their chocolates–two varieties of white chocolate that I used in this recipe, one classic White Chocolate Cloud and the other an interesting Balsamic Vinegar in White Chocolate, as well as some amazingly rich 71% Dark Chocolate Brute. While all of them were incredible on their own, it was so fun using both varieties of white chocolate in a savory dish.

Roasted parsnips make a great soup... with white chocolate as an accent flavor! This soup is surprising and delicious, thanks to the rich, quality chocolates from Forte Artisan Chocolates, a sponsor for this year's #Choctoberfest.

Truth be told, on my own I probably wouldn’t take the initiative to make something savory with chocolate. But Forte challenged us to at least try it… so try it I did! And this soup is the amazing result. It’s hard to describe this savory White Chocolate Parsnip Soup without having you over for a bowl, but it is very similar to a good butternut squash bisque or pumpkin soup. A little sweet, but not too overpowering. The white chocolate is a perfect compliment to the veggie goodness of this soup.

Roasted parsnips make a great soup... with white chocolate as an accent flavor! This soup is surprising and delicious, thanks to the rich, quality chocolates from Forte Artisan Chocolates, a sponsor for this year's #Choctoberfest.

One of the most surprising things about making this soup was the fact that it definitely did not need any herbs or spices for flavor. The parsnips, when roasted, almost have a spiced flavor profile. I swear I smelled cinnamon! But alas, I just roasted them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. It was crazytown, but turned out to be the perfect compliment to sweet, rich white chocolate when they were blended with chicken broth, cream, garlic, and onion. This is a must try soup, especially if you can get your hands on some Forte Artisan Chocolate. This is the best white chocolate I have ever had, and lucky for you, you can use the code “CHOCTOBERFEST2018” on their website now to get a special buy 3 get 1 free sale. They have so many unique flavors… and a whole line of savory chocolate bars in their Gusto line. I can’t wait to try them all!

Roasted parsnips make a great soup... with white chocolate as an accent flavor! This soup is surprising and delicious, thanks to the rich, quality chocolates from Forte Artisan Chocolates, a sponsor for this year's #Choctoberfest.

All in all, I love this White Chocolate Parsnip Soup, even though it was a total experiment. My family enjoyed it too. It’s great with crusty bread and a side salad, but I can also envision it being a great first or second course for a fancy meal with some filet mignon. Or maybe at Thanksgiving! Yesss! How fun would it be to surprise your guests with soup, that includes white chocolate? Yes, please! Enjoy, friends!

one year ago: Double Chocolate Pumpkin Energy Bites
two years ago: Pumpkin & Sausage Pizza

four years ago: Banana Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
five years ago: Funfetti Cookies
six years ago: Chicken Enchiladas with Green Chili Sour Cream Sauce
seven years ago: Roasted Vegetable Soup
eight years ago: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

Please check out more chocolate recipes here!!

White Chocolate Parsnip Soup

  • Servings: 8
  • Print

adapted from Chocolate for Dinner, An Italian Tradition by Francine Segan

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds parsnips (about 4-5 large parsnips)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin oil
  • freshly ground black pepper and salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • freshly ground black pepper and salt
  • 45 gram White Chocolate Cloud bar by Forte Artisan Chocolates, chopped
  • 45 gram Balsamic Vinegar in White Chocolate bar by Forte Artisan Chocolates, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • minced fresh rosemary or dill

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Peel and cut parsnips into one inch slices, then toss with olive oil. Season with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes, tossing halfway through, until softened.

When parsnips are almost done, melt butter in a large dutch oven or stockpot. Add onion and cook over medium heat until softened, about 6-7 minutes. Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds until fragrant.

Pour in chicken stock, vanilla, and roasted parsnips. Season with pepper and a little salt, then bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, then cover and cook for 20 minutes. Add chopped white chocolate, then stir until melted, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add in heavy cream and lemon juice, then use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. Serve with a touch of fresh herbs. Enjoy!

Disclosure: I received free product from Forte Artisan Chocolates to use in this recipe for #Choctoberfest. I was not required to review them or provide positive feedback. All opinions are my own. You can learn more about Forte Artisan Chocolates and get great recipe ideas from them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Bars, Desserts, Recipes

#Choctoberfest: Pumpkin Chocolate Cereal Treats

Chocolate. Sprinkles. Pumpkin. Marshmallows. What’s not to love?? These yummy cereal treats are made with Sprinkle Pop sprinkles for #Choctoberfest and are oh-so-fun!

Chocolate. Sprinkles. Pumpkin. Marshmallows. What's not to love?? These yummy cereal treats are made with Sprinkle Pop sprinkles for #Choctoberfest and are oh-so-fun!

Last winter I made some kicked up rice krispie cereal treats and I’ve been thinking of them ever since, dreaming up a bunch of different flavors and add ins. I mean, the classic version is good (my mom made a batch when we were visiting my parents’ house last month)… but it’s also fun to go a little crazy sometimes! I’ve been scheming about making a pumpkin chocolate version but was a little unsure about adding pumpkin puree to a crisp treat. What to do, what to do.

Chocolate. Sprinkles. Pumpkin. Marshmallows. What's not to love?? These yummy cereal treats are made with Sprinkle Pop sprinkles for #Choctoberfest and are oh-so-fun!

Enter SPRINKLE POP and their cute little sprinkles! As soon as I starting browsing their site in preparation for their sponsorship of #Choctoberfest, I knew how I could make pumpkin chocolate cereal treats. WITH PUMPKIN SPRINKLES!!! Sorry for the caps, but I am just SO excited. They have so many fun sprinkle options for each season. Their fall/Halloween section is so much fun, but I also am in loooove with their Christmas/holiday options. So cute. They have a ridiculous amount of beautiful, sparkly sprinkles as well as fun shapes and mixes for all occasions. They can also make custom blends! So fun.

Chocolate. Sprinkles. Pumpkin. Marshmallows. What's not to love?? These yummy cereal treats are made with Sprinkle Pop sprinkles for #Choctoberfest and are oh-so-fun!

To make these Pumpkin Chocolate Cereal Treats extra special, the cute little orange pumpkin sprinkles are pressed into the bottom and top of the pan. Sprinkle Pop’s sprinkles are water based, so the colors could bleed and I didn’t want to that to happen, even if orange and black are seasonally appropriate. 🙂 These cereal treats are filled with two types of chocolate–chocolate chips and cocoa powder, as well as two types of pumpkin flavor–pumpkin oats cereal (Aldi brand, woot!) and pumpkin pie spice. Double the fun, twice! These little treats are so addictive. They would be perfect at a Halloween party. Can you imagine them cut out into little pumpkin shapes?? Gah, why didn’t I think of that before? Now you can try that out and report back to me! You could even do that with your prizes if you win the awesome #Choctoberfest giveaway with lots of chocolate, cooking gear, and sugar for all your baking needs. Enter here if you haven’t yet!! 🙂 And happy Friday, friends!

Chocolate. Sprinkles. Pumpkin. Marshmallows. What's not to love?? These yummy cereal treats are made with Sprinkle Pop sprinkles for #Choctoberfest and are oh-so-fun!

one year ago: Chocolate Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cake
two year ago: Old Fashioned Chocolate Cobbler
three years ago: Beef Stroganoff 
four years ago: Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer
five years ago: Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cake with Nutella Frosting
six years ago: Apple Peanut Butter Muffins
seven years ago: Pumpkin, Sausage, and Spinach Lasagna
eight years ago: Southwestern Pepperjack Baked Penne

 

Please check out more chocolate recipes here!!

Pumpkin Chocolate Cereal Treats

  • Servings: 16
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • Pumpkin Confetti Sprinkles by Sprinkle Pop
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 7 1/2 cups (approximately 12-13 ounces) mini marshmallows, divided
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 3 cups crisp rice cereal
  • 3 cups pumpkin flavored toasted oats cereal (like Cheerios–I used the Aldi brand!)

Directions:

Generously spray an 8×8 inch baking dish with cooking spray, then sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of Pumpkin Confetti Sprinkles into the bottom of the dish.

In a large pot, melt butter with 6 cups of the mini marshmallows over medium heat. When most of the marshmallows are melted, add the cocoa powder and pumpkin spice and stir vigorously to incorporate. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips. When melted, quickly fold in cereals and reserved marshmallows.

Using greased hands or a spatula, transfer cereal mixture to prepared pan and evenly press down. Sprinkle generously with Pumpkin Confetti Sprinkles, then gently smooth out. Cover and allow to set (at least two hours is best!) before cutting. Keeps in an air-tight container for about a week.

Disclosure: I received free product from Sprinkle Pop to use in this recipe for #Choctoberfest. I was not required to review them or provide positive feedback. All opinions are my own. You can learn more about Sprinkle Pop and get great recipe ideas from them on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Jump on the homemade nut butter train with this chocolately spread with a bit of cookie dough flair! This #Choctoberfest recipe is made with delicious Barlean's Butter Flavored Coconut Oil.
Breakfast, Recipes, Spreads

#Choctoberfest: Chocolate Cookie Dough Peanut Butter

Jump on the homemade nut butter train with this chocolately spread with a bit of cookie dough flair! This #Choctoberfest recipe is made with delicious Barlean’s Butter Flavored Coconut Oil.

Jump on the homemade nut butter train with this chocolately spread with a bit of cookie dough flair! This #Choctoberfest recipe is made with delicious Barlean's Butter Flavored Coconut Oil.

Have you made homemade nut butter yet? It’s one of those recipes that people give you a doubletake when you say, “oh, I made peanut butter this weekend.” It does sound fancy, I’ll admit. But can I tell you a secret? It’s not as impressive as it sounds! As long as you have a good food processor or blender, making nut butter is e-a-s-y. And it tastes amazing, especially since you can customize it a whole bunch. And that’s EXACTLY what I did here!

Jump on the homemade nut butter train with this chocolately spread with a bit of cookie dough flair! This #Choctoberfest recipe is made with delicious Barlean's Butter Flavored Coconut Oil.

I know almond, cashew, etc. butters are trendy, and they’re fun and good… but my personal favorite nut butter is the classic peanut butter! When I make it at home, I love throwing in some warm spices, chia seeds, and a little honey or maple syrup for sweetness. But since it’s #Choctoberfest, I had to go in the chocolate direction. Oh darn! But you know me… I didn’t want to JUST make chocolate peanut butter. I wanted to make it even more special. What to do?! Add some buttery goodness in the form of Barlean’s Butter Flavored Coconut Oil, along with some vanilla, brown sugar, and chocolate chips in a nod to cookie dough. Yes, please!

Jump on the homemade nut butter train with this chocolately spread with a bit of cookie dough flair! This #Choctoberfest recipe is made with delicious Barlean's Butter Flavored Coconut Oil.

Thanks to our fabulous #Choctoberfest sponsor, Barlean’s, this chocolate peanut butter really tastes great. Though you can make nut butter without any added oils, for homemade nut butter, a little oil really does help everything come together. Normally I use canola or olive oil, but this coconut oil (and its buttery taste) was so welcome. Barlean’s makes superfood nutrition easy, and that’s true with my chocolatey recipe!

Jump on the homemade nut butter train with this chocolately spread with a bit of cookie dough flair! This #Choctoberfest recipe is made with delicious Barlean's Butter Flavored Coconut Oil.

My family and I have been enjoying this Chocolate Cookie Dough Peanut Butter on the daily over the past week. I can’t decide on my favorite use. It’s great stirred into oatmeal or on a banana. But if I’m being TRULY honest… I’ve probably consumed half the jar by the spoonful. No joke. But it’s not just me! My two year old now says “spoon like Mama!” because he’s seen me sneaking spoonfuls of Chocolate Cookie Dough Peanut Butter a few too many times. Ooops! Guess that’s just an excuse to make a second batch. 🙂 I’ll have to experiment with different textures. I left this version a little chunky, but you can also smooth it out more if you prefer. I guess you’ll have to make a few batches too to see how it’s best! 🙂 Enjoy!

one year ago: Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup + Cold Brew Coffee Method
two year ago: Banana Espresso Chocolate Crumb Cake
three years ago: Coconut Oil Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
four years ago: Asian Turkey Meatballs with Carrot Rice
five years ago: Cream of Broccoli Soup with Cheese
six years ago: No Bake Tropical Energy Bites
seven years ago: Garlicky Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil
eight years ago: Pillow Cookies

Please check out other delicious #Choctoberfest recipes here! And enter our giveaway this week here! 🙂 

Chocolate Cookie Dough Peanut Butter

  • Servings: makes 2 cups
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces dry roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 3 tablespoons Barlean’s Butter Flavored Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Directions:

In a food processor, pulse together peanuts and coconut oil until the peanuts are pretty broken down, but aren’t completely smooth yet.

Add cocoa powder, brown sguar, chia seeds, vanilla, and salt. Pulse a few more times until everything starts to come together, scraping the sides with a spatula as necessary. Repeat until mixture is smooth.

Add mini chocolate chips and pulse once to incorporate.

Store in a jar or other air-tight container in the refrigerator, up to one month.

For easier spreading, allow to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Alternatively, microwave for 15-20 seconds or until stirrable. This peanut butter is delicious on toast, with apples or bananas, on oatmeal, or just by the spoonful!

Disclosure: I received free product from Barlean’s to use in this recipe for #Choctoberfest. I was not required to review them or provide positive feedback. All opinions are my own. You can learn more about Barlean’s and get great recipe ideas from them on PinterestFacebookInstagram, and Twitter.