The Social Media Trap

My beef with social media is simple: I follow people I know, people I like, people I look up to, and people I aspire to inspire across social media platforms. I then become frustrated to see the same posts across all social sites.

A picture of a sunset or a product or a person that is perfect for one market is not perfect across the board.

A picture of a sunset or a product or a person that is modified in hopes that it will be perfect across the board still is not.

I will un-follow someone very quickly if everything they post is a mirror of all I’ve seen from them on every other social media platform, and every time I un-follow someone for this reason it actually pains me. I want so badly for them to post unique, site-specific content that gives me a full picture of the person, product, company.

If I’m following a juice company, I’d love to laugh as someone chugs the juice down as quickly as possible on Snapchat. Meanwhile, on Pinterest I’m reading great smoothie recipes with one of their juices as the base. Instagram would present their juice in an ice-cold glass sitting beachside, and Facebook presents an informative yet still visually pleasing picture of the product in full display with the health benefits of this particular kind of juice and this particular brand. Twitter would share news and retweets of folks enjoying this juice all over the world, and YouTube might show a range of professional and amateur videos of people living and loving this brand of juice. This would be a company I would follow across all platforms, and as new platforms presented themselves, I would seek this company out every single time.

This same rationale applies to people, too. Every Snap is not meant for Facebook. Every blog post is not meant for LinkedIn. Every Insta pic is not meant for Twitter.

If you are interesting, followers will seek you out. We don’t have to try so hard for people to like us, they like us because we’re us. Maximize each social media platform for what it is, and enjoy the long term benefits of retention and presenting a broader picture of your life, your brand, and your world.

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

RECIPE OF DELICIOUSNESS: Pumpkin Muffins

I adore baking treats that are just low in sugar and “healthy” enough that they trick my kids into thinking they’re an indulgence, when really they’re also suitable for a breakfast addition or a snack. This recipe for the most amazing pumpkin muffins hits the mark! Here we go…

Mix all of this deliciousness in one large bowl:wpid-img_25271.jpg

  • 2 c pumpkin puree
    • I like to use the fresh pumpkin guts this time of year, but if you don’t like all of the mess that goes with that, feel free to use the standard 15ish oz can of pumpkin.
    • IF you are going to go with the fresh pumpkin, puree it in the blender before adding it to break up any stringiness.
  • 1/2 c raw sugar
  • 3/4 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 1/2 T vegetable or coconut oil
  • 2 c your choice of flour
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1/4 c pepitas (which is just a fancy name for pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts (or your choice of nuts…which are completely optional)

Notice anything? Oh, like these muffins are completely vegan. Oh yeah…double bonus! Unbelievably delicious and also happen to be free of animal gunk. Good times!!!

Mix it all up and you’re ready to bake.

Now is the time to get your oven warming. We’ll cook these babies at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

While your oven is warming, grease your muffin tin with your choice of oils. I prefer a dab of veggie or coconut oil for each, then spread it around the muffin tin to evenly cover the bottoms and side of each slot.

Fill your muffins each to about 3/4 full! I know this is more than the standard muffin recipe will call for, but these are deliciously dense and hearty, so they won’t fluff and run all over the place like some crazy egg-based muffins would 🙂

*Makes about a dozen muffins*

If you would like, you can also sprinkle some extra fun on the tops of your muffins once they’re in the tin but before they’re baked. I chose to top mine with some dry-roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds for a bit of extra nuttiness, but you could also use the pepitas or chopped nuts for a topping, as well!

When your oven has reached temp, these beauties will bake for somewhere in the 40-50 minute range, but just watch them, occasionally stick a toothpick in them, and judge for yourself.

When they’re ready:

  1. the toothpick will be mostly dry (they’re still going to be pretty dense muffins, so some of that pumpkin is bound to stick…)
  2. the edges of the muffin will start to pull away from the sides of the muffin tin
  3. the edges of the muffins will have turned a beautiful golden brown

After pulling the pan out of the oven, allow to rest for about 3 minutes before running a butter knife around the edges of each muffin, and removing the muffins from the tin to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

These delicious treats are sure to become a new family favorite in your household! Now…go get your pumpkin on!

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

BOOK REVIEW: Food52 Vegan

Click to know more & purchase

Click to know more & purchase

I am so excited to share with y’all this AWESOME vegan recipe book, Food52 Vegan, an absolutely beautiful book which begs you to turn the pages, admire the stunning food photography, and dive into every recipe with fork in hand. Those of you who have already embraced the vegan lifestyle may already know the author, Gena Hamshaw, from her personal blog, The Full Helping, which is chock-full of nourishing recipes, tips and tricks of the vegan trade!

Rather than focusing on creating vegan dupes of nonvegan dishes, Gena has brought together a collection of recipes that stand on their own, and…oh…they happen to also be vegan. I love that she focuses on creating wonderfully delicious, plant-based dishes without getting hung-up on what’s missing (i.e. animal products).

So many things appeal to me about this particular recipe book. Although I am not exclusively a vegan eater, it is important to me that I feed myself and my family food-fuel from seasonal, nourishing, real foods. Gena’s book speaks to that desire to steer clear of overly-processed, far-from-actual-food foods. As she states in her introduction, “At its heart, vegan food is just food.”

The recipes Gena so eloquently shares with her readers in Food52 Vegan feed our bodies in ways that “fast food” just cannot accomplish.

Because of the abundance of information Gena includes in Food52 Vegan, it reminds me of an abbreviated, less pretentious version of the classic The Joy of Cooking. Gena takes the initiative to teach about the ingredients, rather than merely listing them. When I open up a recipe, I also learn something new, learning options on ways to tweak the recipe to fit my own family’s particular tastes or health needs, which–in turn–gives me a deeper appreciation for the ingredients and the process of gathering, preparing, and presenting this nourishing food to my family.

Food52 Vegan is like a gift to the reader, and I recommend it to any cook willing to move beyond meat and potatoes, and taste how real food can truly make you feel!

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

There are so many great ways to get this book AND find out more about Gena and Food52. Check out these resources and keep the high-quality food-fuel going!

FTC: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Recipe: Turkey Meatloaf

How many times have you made a turkey meatloaf and ended up disappointed by the lack of flavor and texture? I have terrific news!!! Your search for a full-flavored and delicious turkey meatloaf stops here! Bake up to deliciousness:

image

*Preheat oven to 350°F

*Yields 10 servings

Mix together in large bowl:
*3 lbs ground turkey
*1 c quinoa
*1 onion, chopped
*2 T hot pepper sauce
*1 T Worcestershire sauce
*2 eggs
*1 T salt
*1/4 c brown sugar
*2 garlic cloves, minced
*2 t black pepper
*1/2 can from 15 oz can tomato sauce

Once thoroughly mixed, press into one large or two smaller loaf pans.
*Pour remaining 1/2 can of tomato sauce over loaf/loaves

Place in oven and bake until center is no longer pink (160°F internal temperature), approximately 50-60 minutes.

Slice and enjoy the most flavorful turkey meatloaf you’ve ever sunk a tooth into!

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,
Mari!yn

RECIPE OF AWESOMENESS: Creamy Chicken Pasta Salad

This homemade pasta salad recipe is just as easy as any boxed mix, and tastes 100x better! It is full of flavor, and even sneaks some delicious veggies and clean proteins in there for those of you with picky eaters!

I originally found this recipe on AllRecipes.com, then I made my own set of Marilyn Modifications to better suit my family’s taste. Either way, it’s sure to be a new family favorite around any dinner table and would also be GREAT for pot-lucks and picnics!

Are you ready for a quick, tasty pasta salad that will have you turning away boxed varieties forever??? Oh yeah, it’s that good!

wpid-img_20150805_192118.jpgFirst, completely mix the following ingredients in a LARGE bowl…the largest you have, really, as this recipe needs growing and scatter room:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing

Now, start your pasta of choice cooking, while you dice and chop the next set of goodies. I prefer to use bowtie pasta because it’s fun and showy!

  • 11 ounces pasta–corkscrew, bowtie, elbow, whatever your family likes best (or, whatever you have on hand!)

While the pasta is doing it’s thing, chop, crumble, and dice the following ingredients…BUT DO NOT add them to the mayo mix, yet:

  • 8 ounces Muenster cheese (trust me, I’m a Wisconsin girl through-and-through…Muenster is a GREAT choice for this recipe!)
  • 1 bunch of celery (because who wants to measure celery??)
  • 2 nice-sized orange bell peppers (because they’re sweet and add such gorgeous color to this dish!)
  • 16 (or so) slices of crispy cooked bacon. BTW…Did you know that you can purchase pre-cooked bacon at the market? Oh yeah! This was such a happy surprise for me because I LOVE bacon, but HATE everything about cooking it (the smell, the feel, the smell, the grease, the way you smell it’s residual odor for days…ug). As an absolute last resort, I suppose you could use good old dried Bacon Bits in place of real bacon, but it’s pretty strong-flavored and salty, so I’d cut the amount in half if you’re going to go that route.

By now, you can totally drain your tasty pasta, and add it to the mayo mix. Stir well to fully coat the pasta.

Next, add the following to the mayo/pasta mix:

  • 1 cooked rotisserie chicken, deboned and shredded or chopped (depending on your personal preference)

Once the mayo mix, pasta, and chicken are fully coated, we can put the rest together! Add the cheese, chopped veggies, and whichever bacon option you went with, into the BIG bowl. Stir gently to coat all of the new additions.

Last but certainly not least, add the final two ingredients and lightly stir to incorporate them into the dish:

  • 11 ounces grape tomatoes
  • 1 medium-size avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped

This dish is best served cold, so I suggest allowing at least 30 minutes of refrigeration time before devouring…if you can wait that long 😉

My wish is that your family loves this dish as much as mine did! ALSO, if you’re on AllRecipes.com, feel free to hook up with me over there. Who knew that social media would also extend into our cookbooks?!? But, I love being connected, and it’s a great way to continue to share my passions with whoever is interested, so I’m game! You can find ME at: http://m.allrecipes.com/cook/15611560/

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Maril!yn

You can also follow me on Snapchat @ MarilynHorton78

You can also follow me on Snapchat @ MarilynHorton78

My Family’s FAVORITE COOKIES EVER!

marilynsfamouscookiesI prefer to call these gems “Marilyn’s World Famous Cookies,” but that’s not really an accurate name for them. They’ve neither been around the world, or been shared with anyone who’s been outside the U.S, so for now I will just apply the title to my own little corner of the universe. But, now that you’re going to be craving them so much I know they’ll be “world famous” very soon!

These cookies began on an evening when my kiddos were craving homemade chocolate chip cookies. Not having a family recipe to go from, I used the recipe on the back of the Nestle chocolate chips bag. Those were tasty, but I found myself thinking, “that was a lot of work for cookies that were as good as I could have purchased, pre-packaged, for half the price.” So, instead of turning back to the cookie aisle, I decided to improve upon the recipe and make these cookies something my family and I could really sink our teeth into. What I created was a cookie recipe that my family actually craves and begs for. They’re really something special!

Begin with the basics:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, beat the following ingredients at a medium speed until creamy and smooth:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter–I prefer the unsalted variety, and I believe butter is the most cooperative when it’s softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup regular old white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract–the real stuff, no imitation flavors allowed here
  • 2 large eggs

Slow mixer speed, and add the following ingredients about a half cup at a time to allow for full incorporation and less flying powders 😉

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

wpid-20150727_195945.jpgNow, you’ll need to put aside your mixer and put some elbow grease into your mixing, but just think of how many calories you’ll burn! I bet the workout at least earns you an extra cookie or two!!!

Like the powdery stuff, I prefer to add these ingredients a 1/2 cup at a time to ensure full-on mixability:

  • 2 cups (or a 12 ounce bag) chocolate chips–My family prefers when I make these cookies with the dark chocolate chips, but the semi-sweet are a close second. You can also play around with using white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, or whatever strikes your taste buds!
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts–We have several nuts in our family, but no nut allergies, so I play with this one a little bit. Sometimes, I’ll have a fresh batch of pecans from a local tree, so I’ll use those. Sometimes, I’ll crave macadamia nuts, or slivered almonds, or walnuts. I pretty much use whatever is handy at the time, and they all work beautifully with this recipe.
    • IF YOU HAVE A NUT ALLERGY IN YOUR FAMILY: just use a 1/2 cup extra of one of the other “chunky” ingredients listed.
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal–Any old kind will do, but I prefer the old fashioned oats over the quick oats.
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries OR dried blueberries…or a mix of the two!

Once ALL of this is good and mixed together, drop by rounded tablespoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet with 2 inches between globs. Don’t spread the batter, just let the chunky, gooey globs form their own cookie shape as they bake.

Bake for 9-11 minutes at 375 degrees. After baking, allow to rest on cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes, then transfer with a metal spatula (I prefer metal because the pliable, hot cookies tear less with a metal spatula) onto a cooling rack.

This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Might as well go ahead and make a double batch…they’ll go FAST!

I hope your family loves these gems as much as mine does!

Until next time…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

The Tastiest, Healthiest, Most Energizing & Wonderful Smoothie EVER!

Smoothie 20131213.jpgThis is my personal, humble opinion, but I believe that this is the Tastiest, Healthiest, Most Energizing & Wonderful Smoothie Recipe EVER! But don’t just take my word for it…try it yourself!

Here’s what I used and why:

KALE: Kale is a high-protein green veggie with heavy doses of Vitamins A & C and anti-cancer goodness. It’s a great source of fiber so it nourishes and cleanses. It’s a great immune system booster and keeps our bodies healthy inside and out. This is my FAVE green veggie and is an all-around great superfood!

BLUEBERRIES: Blueberries are also great antioxidants, high in Vitamins A & C, as well as bioflavonoids. They boost our immune systems, power up our eyesight, and cleanse and protect our blood vessels. All these benefits and they also add great flavor to our smoothie! I prefer frozen blueberries because they are flash-frozen for that always fresh, always great flavor!

COCONUT OIL: Oh how I love Coconut Oil…let me count the ways! This good stuff aids in digestion and boosts metabolism. It helps your body fight diseases and the common cold. It’s an awesome product and adds some YUMMY coconutty flavor to our smoothie–it’s a win-win! If you want to know another way I love to use coconut oil, be sure and check out my vid about Oil Pulling: http://youtu.be/Ybg2_sic9rg

BANANA: One question: Can you have a smoothie recipe without including banana? NOT ME!!! Bananas add great texture and sweetness, which help to counterbalance tangier flavors like the kale, while also packing our smoothie with fiber, energy boosting carbs, and potassium. Plus, who doesn’t have a bunch of bananas in their kitchen??? They’re just easy!

HONEY: Always purchase your honey from a locally produced source so that you can not only enjoy a fresher product and support your regional farmers, but you will have the added benefit of helping stave off allergies and sinus issues as the local honey contains the allergens which then work to train your body not to fight them. After all, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em…and enjoy freedom from regional allergy issues that can lead to so much more!

APPLE: Crisp and full of sweet flavor, apples are an excellent addition to any smoothie (if your blender can truly break them down and turn them into something other than crispy chunks in your smoothie). They are a great source of fiber, so they not only detox your body but also help keep your cholesterol down, aid in digestion, and help your body glow! Leave the skins on if your blender can handle them because that’s where most of the power-packing nutrients are; if your blender won’t cooperate, you can also pre-juice your apples and use the juice as a liquid base to your smoothie.

TOFU: I use soy products sparingly, but in the case of the perfect smoothie, a few dollups of soft tofu is a great way to add protein and additional smoothie texture.

ALMOND MILK: I used to love to make my own almond milk, but now I don’t have to: it’s readily available even on standard grocery store shelves and it’s a lot less expensive than making it myself. This good stuff adds my liquid to make my smoothie so rich and creamy, while also adding protein without dairy that clogs sinuses and creates mucus issues (bleh!). On top of the good reasons to use almond milk as the base for your smoothie, it also tastes great and has a nice, long shelf life, too!

Enjoy & Make it a great day,

Mari!yn