Negativity & The Water Cooler

Is the water cooler half empty or half full?  What are you doing standing there? God delivered the Israelites from slavery & Pharaoh’s rule; His commitment to them was taking them to the Promise Land.  By day he guided them by a cloud, at night with fire.  He provided manna from heaven and water from rocks.  When they arrived at the border, Moses sent 12 spies to scout out the land; upon their return 10 had reports with a negative spin.  The land flowed with milk and honey, but it was ruled by powerful men in large fortified cities!

“And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored… the land devours those living in it.  All the people we saw there are of great size… we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them.” Numbers: 13:32-33

Have you noticed that once one person has started complaining about work or the boss it's only a matter or minutes before everyone within earshot has put in their two cents.  Negativity spreads like an infectious disease. And while some, most or all of the statements may be true (I’ve been there!) they are far from necessary.  The most common response after a whining session is “well it makes me feel better”, but I have a hard believing that’s true.

Coughing up phlegm when you have a cough might provide some relief for an hour or so, but the reality is there is plenty more where that came from.  Yes, I’m comparing negativity to phlegm, because while you may have a few moments of gratification after sharing your negative thoughts with the office, complaining will not heal you.  In fact, the more you cough, the higher the risk of infecting the whole office.  And while misery may love company, it sure makes for a long day and a miserable work environment.

When you feel a coughing spell coming on, take a sip from the water cooler and ask yourself what seas God has parted for you.  Are you are dwelling solely on the negative instead of remembering all the positive things God has done for you?

Stoplight Prayer:  Father in Heaven, thank you for providing me with the opportunities I have at work.  Please help me set my mind on things above and not on earthly things.

Still Hungry?  Nehemiah faced overwhelming negativity when he was tasked with rebuilding the wall aroundJerusalemin Nehemiah 1 – 6.

Vegan Boston Creme Pie Cupcakes!


Brooklyn vs Boston Creme Pie Cupcakes - adapted from vegan cupcakes take over the world, by isa chandra moskowitz and terry hope romero - I highly recommend this book if you a) are vegan b) love to cook or c) just love good food!!! yields 12 cupcakes


  • 1/2c soy/almond milk
  • 1/2t agar powder or 1½t agar flakes
  • 4t arrowroot powder
  • 6oz silken tofu
  • 1/3c sugar
  • dash salt
  • 1½t vanilla


  • 1/4c soy/almond milk
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2T maple syrup


  • 1c soy/almond milk
  • 1t apple cider vinegar
  • 1¼c all purpose flour
  • 2T cornstarch
  • 3/4t baking powder
  • 1/2t baking soda
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1/2c non-hydrogenated vegan butter (Earth Balance is great)
  • 3/4c sugar
  • 2¼t vanilla

  1. for the filling, pour 1/3c soy milk into a small saucepan (keep the remaining soy in the measuring cup, you’ll need it in a minute) over medium heat and add agar, stirring constantly
  2. bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 4 more minutes, until the agar is completely dissolved
  3. whisk arrowroot powder into rest of soy milk, and add to agar mixture, constantly stirring
  4. allow to cook for 2 more minutes, until it resembles a thick pudding, then remove from heat and chill for an hour
  5. crumble tofu into blender, add the sugar, salt, and cooked arrowroot mixture and blend until creamy
  6. add vanilla and blend again
  7. scrape mixture into a container and cover, then let chill for another hour
  8. for the ganache, bring soy milk to a gentle boil in a small sauce pan
  9. immediately remove from heat and add chocolate and maple syrup
  10. stir mixture until it is fully melted and smooth, then set aside til ready to use
  11. for the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350º and line muffin pan with cupcake liners
  12. whisk soy milk and vinegar together and set aside a few minutes to curdle
  13. sift flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and ensure combined
  14. cream vegan butter and sugar for 2 minutes until light and fluffy, then beat in vanilla
  15. alternate beating in soy milk/apple cider mixture and dry ingredients
  16. bake for 22 minutes, then remove and allow to completely cool
  17. make a hole in the center of each cupcake, then press the sides and bottom of hole to make it larger
  18. fill a pastry bag with a large nozzle, then place filling into bag
  19. press tip into cupcake and fill each center with as much filling as possible
  20. spread the tops of the cupcakes with ganache
  21. chill for one hour and FINALLY enjoy!

Easy, Organic Chocolate Swirl Cupcakes

Who doesn't love cupcakes...and chocolate...and easy?!? Here is the most simple cupcake recipe you'll come across and the best part uses Organic ingredients so you can feel good about serving this to your friends, family, or enjoying a few yourself!  This is also a great recipe to get your kids involved in helping with!


  • 1 (16.2 ounce) box organic vanilla cake mix (recommended: Dr. Oetker)
  • 3 organic eggs
  • 2/3 cup organic whole milk
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 4 ounces organic 72-percent dark chocolate, chopped
  • Confectioners' sugar, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the paper baking cups into the cupcake molds.

Melt the chocolate in adding it to a small glass bowl set over a simmering saucepan of water and stirring until it melts. Stir in the milk to thin it out a bit.

Follow the package instructions and prepare the vanilla cake mix. Blend the cake mix with 3 eggs, 2/3 cup milk, and 1/2 cup oil. Pour 1/2 the mix in a separate bowl. Mix the melted chocolate into one of the bowls and stir for a couple of minutes, until you have reached a nice dark colored mix.

 In each cupcake mold, use 1/2 vanilla and 1/2 chocolate mix, bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

 Serve with a sprinkle of confectioners' sugar. Enjoy!

Tasty Mac and Cheese

Some say that macaroni and cheese is the ultimate in comfort food. While I agree, this old-time favorite makes a special appearance  just a few times during the year in my household.  As well,  holiday meals are simply incomplete without this cheesy indulgence.  Just a few years ago, I remember making a special trip to the grocery store on Christmas morning because this all important dish was not included on the menu -- the family was in uproar!!

Try it out and you may never go back to the 'box'!


  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups organic whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ - ¾ cup Sautéed Onion & Garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups grated Cheddar (about 6 ounces)
  • ½ cup Asiago Cheese
  • Tex-Joy or season salt


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.
  • Sauté onion and garlic in the remaining 5 tablespoons butter in a heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the flour, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the flour brown.
  • Using a whisk, add the milk in a steady stream and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth, 4 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat.
  • Add the salt, pepper, Tex-Joy or Season salt, and 2 cups of the cheese, and stir well.
  • Add the noodles and Asiago cheese and stir well.
  • Pour into the prepared dish.
  • Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cheese evenly over the macaroni and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Holiday Classic - The Pumpkin Pie

For the past 2 years I've had the pleasure of cooking Thanksgiving dinner for our family Thanksgiving with my in-laws. I don't think I slept 2 hours on Thanksgiving Eve the first year worrying about "am I cooking enough food" and "did I leave enough time for the turkey to thaw". I love cooking but that first year was a lot of pressure on a girl! One thing I've learned is that you don't have to be a gourmet cook as long as you have a great Pumpkin Pie :).

Versions of the Pumpkin Pie have been around since 1621 when they would fill a pumpkin with spices, milk, and sugar and cook it. Now, nearly 400 years later we have a a few other (and tastier!) options. Here is my favorite "Class Pumpkin Pie" recipe.   

Classic Pumpkin Pie (William-Sonoma)


  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Prebaked and cooled deep-dish piecrust


Preheat an oven to 375ºF.

In a bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Add the pumpkin, eggs, cream and milk and whisk to combine.

Pour the filling into the prebaked piecrust and bake until the center is set, 60 to 65 minutes, covering the edges of the crust with aluminum foil after 30 minutes if they brown too quickly.

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least 2 hours, before serving. Top with real whipped cream, savor, and enjoy your loved ones! Serves 10.

More than a cupcake!

Thursday’s Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Man & Woman of the Year campaign fundraiser was a success! Thanks to Kira Smith (LLS Man & Woman of the Year Candidate) funds were raised for research, patient services, advocacy, and public education regarding Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Solid Tumor Cancer. To donate to this wonderful cause go to: Hotcakes was so happy to cater this event with Very Vanilla Vegan and Double Chocolate Vegan cupcakes! You can order a dozen or five by e-mailing or following this recipe!

The Goods (Vanilla Vegan Cupcakes):

Ingredients: 1 cup almond milk 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar 1¼ cups all-purpose flour 2 Tbsp. cornstarch ¾ tsp. baking powder ½ tsp. baking soda ¼ tsp. salt ⅓ cup canola oil ¾ cup sugar 2 tsp. Mexican vanilla extract ¼ tsp. almond extract

The Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  • Whisk the soy milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside.
  • Beat together the soy milk mixture, oil, sugar, vanilla, and other extracts, if using, in a large bowl.
  • Sift in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix until no large lumps remain.
  • Fill cupcake liners two-thirds of the way and bake for 20 to 22 minutes.
  • Transfer to a cooling rack, and let cool completely before frosting.

Vegan Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:

½ cup nonhydrogenated shortening ½ cup nonhydrogenated margarine 2 tsp Mexican vanilla 3½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted ¼ cup plain almond milk

The Steps: Beat together the shortening, margarine, and vanilla. Add sugar and almond milk in thirds. Pipe or spread onto cupcakes. Enjoy!

- Jess