MONEY. The four letter word so bad it’s five letters. Money fears are always the f*ckers to our authenticity and manifestation, aren’t they?

This has been an educating and eye opening transition for me being a stay at home mom.  On one hand, I’m always with my daughter which is exhausting but wonderful.  I would absolutely hate being away from her, having to work full time right now.  On the other hand, not having an income– especially not having my own income, has been challenging and scary. Then, the third part of my current conundrum is having this intense desire to create. I have 1,249,823 projects I want to work on that require time, energy and money.  No big!  πŸ˜‰  

I’ll be frank, I zero percent want to go back to work right now.  My body still feels wrecked (which I’m working on), I’m up with our daughter all night (four month sleep regression is a THANG), I’m exhausted all the time, and I know to work on weekends will totally wipe out all reserves.  

I don’t ‘sleep when the baby sleeps,’  I ‘hustle when the baby sleeps.’  I bake, I take photos, write blogs, edit photos, watch tutorials… I am always working.  I am always learning.  I’m not creating because of all of this magical downtime I have, I am MAKING. IT. HAPPEN. in between burps and diaper changes, or at midnight after she’s asleep.

So to spend my ‘hustle time’ working for someone else at an unfulfilling job means I won’t have the time or energy to create (which in itself is a life force sucker), and that– truth be told–  scares the shit out of me. Not because I think my inner artist will shrivel up and die, turning quickly into a depress case (though been there, done that) but because if I don’t start these projects now, will I ever have the perfect circumstances to start them?  Time is a commodity. It’s like paying rent versus the investment of a mortgage.  People that are successful food bloggers are successful now because they put in years of blogging.  Most YouTubers are able to monetize because they have years of videos under their belt winning subscribers not because they have five.  I don’t want to be 65 just having started things. The sooner I start, the sooner the pay off.  Hence, the hustle. You get what I’m putting down?

I know society can be a judgmental, know-it-all biotch.  “If you can’t pay your bills, suck it up and get a job. It’s called being an adult. You do what you have to do for your children. You made the choice to have kids.”  And to an extent, there is totally truth to that!  Sometimes, a person might need to get a job that feels like dying (our grocery store is hiring) to remind yourself that you’re responsible and capable of making money.  It feels good to pay your bills and to be able to afford things.  This makes sense to me as I’ve been spending beyond my means (the whole no income thing).  Money is a karmic lesson I get a lot because I continue to spend.  So, maybe we’re relearning a little somethin’ somethin’ here…

On the flip side, sometimes you have to say no to certain money making opportunities (our grocery store is hiring) because it’s time to believe you’re worth more than a job you hate. That idea is part of an old program or your history. You’ve paid your dues and learned your lessons. Your back doesn’t have to break anymore. You CAN have a job you love. Believe in YOU. Or as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe says: “At the moment of commitment, the universe conspires to assist you.”

Sometimes ‘suck it up’ individuals are exceptional at paying bills but can kinda, sorta, really, totally suck at life. Ha! They can sometimes be lifeless or totally unhappy, martyr-and-victim parental units that are dying inside thinking there’s only one way to do life. I promised myself at the start of this child rearing shindig, that I was going to do this different. I don’t believe my life’s purpose is to solely raise my daughter. I believe my life’s purpose is to create, live an authentic life and brings something decent and lovely to the planet as best I can.  It is what makes me feel energized– whole and complete, nurtured and nurturing. And in part FOR my daughter, she’ll hopefully learn through my example she is allowed a fullfulling life as well, and that good things don’t just happen to other people.

So what do you do when your heart and intuition are telling you to create and start these projects but your bank account is saying get a part time job and do the responsible thing? It’s a confusing spiritual merry go round. Personally, for reasons of my own doing, I have both been burned and blessed by stepping out in faith. 

I have waited too long to do the responsible karmic thing and gone into debt without being grounded in reality.  I’ve also passed up lucrative jobs, only to have my aunt email me randomly about a job in the mountains that finally felt right.  I had to borrow money from my sister to move to Mazama to start a life I know I was destined to live.  Hardly responsible. Totally in line with everything I am. And let me tell you, the fine line between those two situations for me right now is the confusing reality between getting knocked on the head in Kansas and having the courage to walk the Yellow Brick Road.  Ha! One is a black and white reality. The other is a vibrant and colorful dream.  And neither is necessarily right or wrong.

This week I dropped my sis off at the bus station down the mountain in San Bernardino.  I was angry and frustrated that I’ve been feeling in limbo.  I felt utterly hopeless, confused. There were some tears.  Did I mention angry?  Anyway, I stopped at one of the turnoffs to have some words with my guides and angels.  For whatever reason, my honesty and the view felt empowering.  The ‘in between’ of manifestation can totally suck (hello, we’re human after all!) but there has always been something incredible on the other end of it when I commit to it.  The mountains reminded me of that.  

The current state of affairs:  I will not apply at the grocery store but I did apply at the local movie theater.  I will reach out to the local tavern about working weekends but specifically for karaoke night (y’all I love my karaoke). I reached out to local photographers to see if they needed weekend help during wedding season because I’ve been dying to have the opportunity to start shooting weddings.  (At the very least, to see if I’d like it).  I’ve reached out to LA headshot photographers to see if they’d be willing to take on apprentices because I would be sooo happy to learn new things.  

I’ve continued to upload images to Shutterstock for some down the road chump change.  I’ve been baking and blogging. I submitted to the Food Network for their baking championship shows. I look for interesting jobs on Craigslist.  I will reach out to local businesses to see if they need food photographs for their websites or menus (which also means I’m working on a photography website).  Our house is on the market in Mazama and I remind myself without attachment to outcome, it could sell at any time.  Weaving, what feels in my soul, like a positive and healthy tapestry… 

I have no idea how this all plays out but I know that it does.  The ‘in between’ is hard, scary and feels impossible but it’s my choice. I know I get to decide to take forty steps back into an old box of possibility or stick to what feels good in an exciting and responsible way.  I know it’ll be in perfect timing and can imagine how utterly grateful and ecstatic I’ll feel later as I can see how the stars aligned.  

And when I am on the other side of this… as a current basket case with sleepless rage tendencies?  I’ll be sure to laugh when people say things just work out for me because I’m a naturally positive person.  Ummm… yeah.  The earful the mountains got would say I’m a total Florence Henderson right here.  πŸ˜‰

We get a choice, friends. Here’s hoping the mountains remind you, too.  xoxo

 

 

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Who has 12,485 cookbooks?  *raises hand*  THIS GIRL. 

Who uses them?  *crickets*

Oy to the vey, I’m so bad!!  I have a ton of cookbooks and while I find a lot of inspiration in them, I rarely crack one open to try a new recipe.  I go to the cracked out, ratings ridden internets.  Yack!  Where’s the charm?!  The romance?! What happened to those books you found in the days of yore? 

A dusty old book you’d find at a flea market or garage sale… and a promise to yourself to start cooking authentic Chinese cuisine.  (Ha! The book doesn’t have pictures, who are we kidding). 

Or the cookbooks your grandmother gave you… Mine never did but here’s hoping you have romantic stories of talking baked goods with grandma.  Mine watched a lot of golf and Wheel of Fortune.  “Bogey, bogey, par, par, son…”  is all I can say about that. 

And then what about those special treat brand new cookbooks with the hardcovers you purchased just for you?  Like Liz buying a lace teddy just for her in Eat, Pray, Love… you bought this cookbook in some kind of intimate act that no one needed to know about.  You just know that it fulfills YOU.  Those ones are my favorite.  And for the love of God, I’ve got millions!

So here’s my new goal, friends.  To share some recipes out of these amazing cookbooks in hopes that A) in 460 years, I’ll get some of the bang back from my buck- ha!  and B) that I will have learned something new and inspired myself to try new flavors, skill-sets or techniques when developing recipes or C) to just find some more winners for the home collection!

So for this blog, I made some Hazelnut Pistachio Slices out of ‘Payard Cookies,’ by Francois Payard with Anne E. McBride.  I chose this recipe because I had pistachios on hand which never happens and I LOOOOVE pistachios!!! (And hazelnuts?  I see you!!) Also because I thoroughly enjoy little ‘dipper’ cookies.

They’re not only small and cute but ‘dipper cookies’ are a perfect little bite with coffee or tea.  They usually have a nice shelf life which I appreciate so you have something to serve when you have guests or when ‘neighbors call.’  (I’m not sure who has neighbors that ‘call’ anymore but I wish we still lived in that time…oh, the poundcakes and southern accent I would have on hand…)

The great thing about this recipe is that they make about a 100 small cookies, which is awesome!  I thought they would be like buttery shortbread but instead they are more like a nutty biscotti.  I’m cool with this because a good ‘dipper’ has to hold up to some moisture!  I chose to dip mine in bittersweet chocolate because they look even more adorable and I love chocolate dipped anything.  Yay!

Then I tried to find some good light in this incredibly dark house we rent- ha!  I find the washer works best.  Ya gotta do what you gotta do… πŸ˜‰

 

Anyway, give this recipe a try and be sure to share it with your friends!  And if you like what you’re reading, be sure to subscribe to the blog and follow the fun over on instagram:  @mandicrocker and @mandicrockersweets.  Happy Baking, neighbors!

 

Hazelnut Pistachio Slices
Yields 100
A crunchy almost biscotti-like sliced cookie filled with pistachios and hazelnuts. The perfect 'dipper' for coffee or tea!
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Ingredients
  1. 2 c. minus 2 T flour (250 grams)
  2. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  3. pinch of salt
  4. 4 1/2 T butter, room temp (65 grams)
  5. 3/4 c. light brown sugar (150 grams)
  6. 3 T water
  7. 2/3 cup hazelnuts, finely chopped (90 grams)
  8. 1/4 cup pistachios, finely chopped (30 grams)
  9. grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  10. 1 c. bittersweet or milk chocolate chips, melted for dipping (optional)
  11. 1/4 c. ground nuts for decorating (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl sift flour, baking soda and salt
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the butter, brown sugar and water, whisking until everything is melted and slightly hot.
  3. Pour the melted mixture over the dry ingredients
  4. Stir in nuts and zest, mixing completely. Let cool to room temp.
  5. Roll the dough out into a 1 inch thick square. Height and width should be about 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours (or preferably overnight)
  6. Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  7. Take out dough and cut into one inch strips.
  8. Cut each strip into 20 slices. (They will be small and fairly thin).
  9. Pop them into the freezer (if you can) for another 15 minutes to firm up again.
  10. Bake for about ten minutes, or until bottoms turn a light brown.
  11. Let cool completely and you can keep them in air tight container for two weeks.
  12. **If you want to dip in chocolate, microwave chips in 30 second intervals in a small microwave safe bowl until smooth. Dip at a horizontal, brush remainder of chocolate of the side of the cookie and place on parchment paper. Sprinkle with ground nuts. Allow to set completely.
MandiCrocker https://mandicrocker.com/
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You guys… This week I went swimming in my sisters pool.  It was magical.  

According to plan, I was going to drive to LA, leave Ruby with my sis, have a good swim and then meet friends around 1pm at a local cafe.

My body has been pretty beat up over the years working in the food industry. But then getting pregnant and giving birth has been even more pain I’ve gotten to experience daily.  My feet and achilles are always in constant pain but the major add on since birth has been sciatic back pain.  Carrying my little cherub hits the nerves in my lower back and the pain gets so bad I wince trying to turn over in the middle of the night. Currently, my body is a wonderland… in a war torn country.  πŸ˜‰  

It’s crazy how much we can lose our sense of play as adults. When I was little, I was a total fish.  We had an inground pool that I lived in until my hair turned green.  Years later, however, I lost my gills.  We sold the house with the pool and after college I moved to Los Angeles, living in a land locked apartment building. Crazy busy and always working, I never saw water unless I was doing dishes.

Well, due to a ton of traffic and construction, the typical hour and a half drive took two and a half hours. When I arrived, I only had 20 minutes to spare and toyed with the idea of not going in.  

It felt like it was barely enough time to make a difference.  I’d also be meeting my friends at the cafe looking like a wet rat.  I’d be racing in, racing to get out, racing to get to my friends– all while towing around Ruby.  It just didn’t seem worth it.  I was so bummed.  

Well, thankfully– for whatever reason– I stuck to my guns and made myself go in.  The car ride was hot and I had so been looking forward to it all week, I wasn’t going to drive all of this way to wimp out.  And let me tell you, to be immersed in cool water, especially after a long drive with no AC, felt like LIFE.  I still had lower back pain but it felt incredible to move all of my muscles without strain.  I honestly wanted to stay in there all day!

It was amazing the sounds that came back to me from my childhood like not a day had passed– the lapping of the water in the pool, the way the water drops sounded against the hot concrete while getting out, what your shadow looks like while you’re drying off.  I’m not sure why but it felt so special and meaningful. Where you could tell the years had flown by was in my swimming ability.  Ha!  If you don’t use it, you definitely lose it!  πŸ˜‰  

Anyway, all this to say… It was a wonderful reminder that even with limited time, we have choices.  We decide what our priorities are and I’m so glad I chose to take the literal plunge.  Oh!  And the best part?  I was so happy I didn’t even care I showed up like a wet rat to lunch.  

Is there anything you’ve wussed out on when you could have taken the hiccup of time that you had?  Creating art?  Reading a book?  Singing a song?  Dancing to some music?  Going for a swim?  

This is just a friendly reminder from your Captain… DO IT!!!  πŸ™‚

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Hey everyone!  How we doin’?  πŸ™‚

It is insanely gorgeous up here in the mountains right now.  I know once summer hits, it’s going to get crazy hot.  I’m kinda dreading it.  I’m such a winter girl!  So I’m doing my best to enjoy it while the nice weather lasts.  πŸ™‚

And part of the enjoyment of this time of year is making a recipe like this one! Today’s post is a light, fluffy and refreshing dessert called ‘Blueberry Jamboree.’  Have you ever had it?  I used to work as a General Manager at Magnolia Bakery in Chicago and this was one of my favorite desserts that they served there.  I was grateful to find they shared the recipe when I searched online for it years later!  

I’ve tweaked it slightly adding lemon juice and nutmeg to the berries and vanilla to the cream cheese filling for personal preference.  I’ve also used frozen blueberries before in a pinch and it’s turned out beautifully.  (Now if they’d only post a recipe for those pistachio cupcakes!  Gah!!)  

The dessert consists of a pecan shortbread crust with a light, whipped cheesecake filling and a sweet blueberry compote topping.  It has a very mild and refreshing flavor.  It’s one of my favorite summer desserts for sure and because it’s not too sweet, you can eat an entire pan of it!  πŸ˜‰

It’s an incredibly easy dessert to make, too!  You make a blueberry compote out of blueberries, sugar, lemon, lemon zest, nutmeg and a little cornstarch.  While that’s cooling, you make a quickie shortbread crust and press it into a 13×9 pan.  You bake the crust for only 15 minutes which is also great because who wants the oven on that long in the spring & summertime?  

While the crust is cooling, you beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together, and fold in whipped cream.  Pile the light filling onto the crust, top with blueberry compote and keep it in the fridge for an hour to set.  That’s it!

This is a great recipe to try this time of year!  And if you do, be sure to take a picture and tag me on Instagram:  @mandicrockersweets.  If you like what you see, don’t forget to subscribe to MandiCrocker and share this post on Facebook.  In fact, I dare say we just might have  a giveaway coming up… Shhhh!  You won’t want to miss a thing!  

Happy Tuesday, folks!  xoxox

 

Blueberry Jamboree
A crunchy, pecan shortbread crust filled with a light, whipped cheesecake filling, topped with a sweet blueberry compote. The perfect light and refreshing dessert for Spring!
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Blueberry Compote
  1. 3 1/2 c. fresh blue berries, divided
  2. ΒΌ cup granulated sugar
  3. 1/8 cup brown sugar
  4. 1 Tbl. + 1 Β½ tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 1 Tbl. + 1 Β½ tsp water
  5. ΒΎ tsp of Lemon Zest
  6. 1 tsp lemon juice
  7. 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
For crust
  1. 3/4 cups unsalted butter, melted
  2. 2 c. flour
  3. 1 c. toasted pecans, chopped
For cheesecake filling
  1. 2 cups heavy cream
  2. 1 lb cream cheese, room temperature, cut into chunks
  3. 2 c. sifted confectioner’s sugar
  4. 1 tsp. vanilla
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Butter a 13x9 inch pan or line with parchment paper.
For blueberry compote
  1. In a large pot combine 1 Β½ c. blueberries and both sugars over medium high heat.
  2. Stir until sugar is dissolved, and blueberries begin boiling.
  3. In a small dish, mix together cornstarch with water.
  4. Whisk cornstarch into the blueberry mixture, stirring until it begins to thicken. Stir in zest, lemon juice and nutmeg.
  5. Remove compote from the heat and fold in remaining 2 c. of fresh blueberries.
  6. Set aside and refrigerate to cool completely.
For crust
  1. Melt butter and mix with flour and toasted pecans until a crumbly dough forms.
  2. Press mixture into the pan and bake for 15 minutes, or just until beginning to lightly brown.
  3. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
For cheesecake filing
  1. In a mixer, whip the heavy cream until thick. Put into a separate bowl and set aside.
  2. In the same mixer, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla.
  3. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture until combined.
For assembly
  1. Pour cream cheese mixture over cooled pecan crust. Top with blueberry compote.
  2. Let set in the fridge for one hour and then enjoy!
MandiCrocker https://mandicrocker.com/
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While I was living in Chicago, I started a little side business on Etsy.  I sold brownies– all different kinds.  I made Classic Dark Chocolate Brownies, ‘Go Nuts’ Brownies, Grasshopper Mint with big ol’ chunks of Oreos, etc. But my best seller?  Fluffernutter Brownies.  

Fluffernutter Brownies consisted of a dark chocolate brownie, with a peanut butter swirl, peanut butter chips, marshmallow fluff and salted peanuts.  All ingredients which take me to my happy place!  

 

They’re crazy rich and fudge-like!

Definitely lick-your-fingers ooey, gooey.  πŸ™‚

A few things about this recipe.  It uses a mixture of melted bittersweet dark chocolate and cocoa powder.  For the bittersweet, I use Ghirardelli chips. I usually stock up when I find them on sale for $2.99.  For the cocoa powder, it’s imperative that you use a non-dutch process cocoa or it will change the texture of the brownie.  I typically use Ghirardelli or Dagoba because that’s what I’ve been able to find where I live.  Typically my local grocery or Target carries these items and aren’t hard to find. 

Once the dark chocolate batter is made, I add 3/4’s of a bag of peanut butter chips and dump it into a 13×9 pan.  Then, I make a peanut butter swirl on top which consists of peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk.  You can typically find sweetened condensed milk in 14 oz. cans and you’ll only need half a can for this recipe.  

But before the other half of the can goes bad and you’ll feel like you’ve wasted your money, can I do you a life flavor?  Make Vietnamese Coffee.  Put a spoonful of condensed milk in your coffee.  In your COFFEE, people!!!  It’s insanely good.  I experienced this for a the first time at a Vietnamese restaurant with my buddy ‘Chef.’  I was all, “What’s Vietnamese Coffee??” And he was like, “Oh, Cupcake, prepare to have your world rocked.”  It was divine.  You guys… this post is like two recipes in one.  You’re welcome.  πŸ˜‰

These will be your FAVORITE brownies for ice cream sundaes. 

You can see why…  πŸ˜‰

So once you’ve got your peanut butter swirl on top, put the pan in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Half way through, drop globs of fluff onto the tops of the brownies.  Cover with remaining peanut butter chips and salted peanuts and bake for another 20-25 minutes. Mmmmm…  

I mean… LOOK AT THAT THING.  *swoon*

Now if you want your Fluffernutter Brownies really ooey gooey, you can add the fluff at the very end.  Bake your brownies as you typically would but as soon as you take them out of the oven, drop the globs of fluff onto the brownies and it will melt all over the top like a sauce.  Ummm… OKAY.  Also, they last for dayssss…. πŸ™‚

 

I closed up my Etsy shop pretty quickly. Not only has my dream been to own my own baking shop but I was having issues shipping brownies so fudge-like in the summer months.  As a customer having to pay for shipping, you also are looking for wholesale prices.  My baking has never been stripped down and cost effective for nationwide shipping or renting commercial kitchens.  I always load everything up with goodies (whoops!) and it’s hard to make a profit when you don’t have the room or aren’t able to buy your ingredients in bulk. 

So, unless one day I am actually able to open a brick & mortar place of my own, which–for various reasons– is the only way I think I’d want to sell baked goods again… I thought I’d share the recipe and make some old fans happy.  πŸ™‚

If you like what you see, folks, don’t forget to subscribe to MandiCrocker!  You can also follow me on Instagram:  @MandiCrocker for my blog or @MandiCrockerSweets for my baked goods feed.  And if this looks super yummy and delectable to you, don’t forget to share with your friends!  Enjoy!  πŸ™‚

Fluffernutter Brownies
Super rich dark chocolate brownies with a peanut butter swirl, peanut butter chips, marshmallow fluff and salted peanuts. Ooey, gooey crazy delicious!
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Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
For brownie
  1. 1 c. all purpose flour (about 130 grams)
  2. 1 1/4 c. non-dutch process cocoa (about 70 grams)
  3. 2 c. sugar
  4. 1 tsp instant espresso powder
  5. 3/4 tsp salt
  6. 10 oz. bag of bittersweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli)
  7. 1 & 1/2 c. unsalted butter (3 sticks)
  8. 4 eggs
  9. 2 egg yolks
  10. 10 oz peanut butter chips, divided.
For swirl
  1. 7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  2. 2/3 cup peanut butter
For toppings
  1. 4 oz. fluff ( half of a small jar)
  2. 1/2 c. salted peanuts
  3. Remaining 1/4 bag of peanut butter chips
Instructions
  1. Line 13x9 inch pan with parchment and preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, sugar, espresso powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a double boiler, melt dark chocolate and butter together, mixing until smooth. Dump melted mixture into a large bowl.*
  4. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolk vigorously into the chocolate mixture one at a time.**
  5. Stir in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in 3/4 of a bag of peanut butter chips and dump batter into 13x9 pan.
  6. In a small bowl mix together peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk. It will be thick. Drop spoonfuls of mixture on top of the batter and swirl on the top as best you can. Put in the oven for 20 minutes.
  7. Take brownies out and drop spoonfuls of fluff onto the top of the brownie batter. Sprinkle with remaining peanut butter chips and salted peanuts. Bake for another 20-25 minutes.
  8. Cool completely before cutting or let set overnight.
Notes
  1. *You can also use a microwave to melt the chocolate and butter together. If you go with this method, make sure the butter is on the bottom of our bowl and melt the mixture at 30 second intervals, mixing every time, so as not to burn the chocolate.
  2. **Be sure to whisk quickly or the eggs will bake and curdle in the hot mixture.
MandiCrocker https://mandicrocker.com/
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