Chocolate Craving: Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

It seems like I don’t have as much time to bake as I would like, so I’m always on the lookout for quick, easy, and delicious treats to make. Recently I saw some chocolate cookies called Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies. They’re chocolate cookies that are rolled in cinnamon and sugar to give them a little spice like Mexican Hot Chocolate. To me, they taste like a chocolate snickerdoodle. 

The best part is they met my criteria: they were quick and easy to make, plus they tasted amazing! Next time I make them, I might even add a little cayenne pepper to up the spice factor a little. I love pairing chocolate and spice.

Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
2 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips
2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined. Add chocolate chips (you will probably have to stir with a wooden spoon at this point).

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the 2 tsp cinnamon. Using heaping tablespoons, form balls of dough and roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place about 3 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are just set (7-8 minutes). Let cookies cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes (so they harden just enough to move) then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

Picture Perfect

For some reason, this combination of plaid shirt and crewneck sweater reminds me of what a mom would dress her little boy in for school picture day. (I hope she would forgo the belt, however.)

Remember picture day? From a very early age I made my own wardrobe decisions, even on this day of days, often to the dismay of my parents. Instead of flowery, girlie dresses, their angel sported neon pink polka dots, orange converse high-tops with turquoise laces, and snakeskin pants, among other things. So when I look back at old school photos, I can do one thing, and one thing only. Laugh my head off. 

Plaid shirt: Gap; red crewneck sweater: Gap, thrifted; gray cords: Loft (I can't help wearing them all the time...they're so comfy!!); brown braid belt: Loft; brown oxfords: Target

Do you remember what you wore for school picture day? Did your parents have a say in what you wore?

Song: Picture Perfect by Nelly Furtado
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I'd Let that Lonesome Whistle Blow My Blues Away

I didn’t realize it when I put this outfit together, but it could have been in my Winter 30 for 30. Maybe there’s a tiny part of me that wishes I was still making outfits out of just 30 pieces. Or maybe it was purely an accident. Either way, does this mean I get some sort of extra credit? 

Chambray button-up: Old Navy; navy blue pants: Loft; pink bow clip: Forever 21: pearl cluster earrings: White House Black Market; pink skinny belt: Target; gray slingback pumps: Naturalizer

I really like how the light blue of my chambray shirt looked against the dark navy of my pants, and how the pink belt stood out against the shades of blue. However, my shirt is a bit on the loose side, and it felt a little bulky when I tucked it in to the wide-leg pants. I try to stick to the “if it’s looser on the bottom keep it more fitted on top” rule. I know, rules are made to be broken and all that, but I just think I look better when there’s some balance.

Are there any rules you tend to follow when getting dressed?   

Song: Folsom Prison Blues by Johnny Cash
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Don't You Come Back No More

Wasn't it just a few days ago that I was waxing poetic about spring? I seem to have spoken too soon: this weekend, we were blessed with snow. And by blessed, I mean cursed. I already moved my heavy sweaters and jackets to my basement, so I hope winter decides to pack its bags and hit the road. Until then, I suppose I'll be living in layers.  

I donned a sweater and a scarf, but I was thinking longingly about spring as I chose the color palette for this outfit (which I wore before it snowed). Here's hoping this sweater weather doesn't last!

Pink sweater: Gap; bootcut jeans: Loft; purple and turquoise cluster earrings: Kohl's; turquoise print scarf: World Market; tan skinny belt: Target; gray slingback pumps: Naturalizer

Song: Hit the Road Jack by Ray Charles
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Take this Pink Ribbon Off My Eyes

This week's Friend Friday questions focus on Fashion and Feminism (say that 10 times fast!). I really enjoyed reflecting on and answering these questions, many of which were not easy to answer! Thanks Katy for continuing to come up with great questions!

1. Do you think there is an incompatibility between feminism and a love for fashion? I think it depends on how you define feminism. For me, being a feminist means all women should enjoy the same rights and privileges as men. It also means that as women, we should find ways to empower ourselves. I think that a love of fashion can be empowering; when we get dressed for ourselves, as a way of expressing our passions and creativity, how can that not be empowering? So for me, the answer is no.

2. There is more to each of us than a love for fashion, how do you incorporate every aspect of yourself into your blog? I incorporate “me” into my blog by not always following the so-called rules. I’ve read more than one article that tells bloggers to choose one or two topics for their blog, so as not to confuse or distract readers. While I focus mainly on fashion and food, I weave all aspects of my life into my posts, from my job to what book I’m reading. It’s possible that I hinder my blog’s growth when I veer from my “niche”, but if that's the case, that's not the kind of growth I want anyway. I'd rather have fewer readers who I can get to know and who, in turn, can get to know me. 

Yellow dot button-up: J.Crew, thrifted; peach sweater: Loft; gray cords: Loft; pearls: Kohl's; gold flower necklace: Loft; gold oxfords: Aldo (whoops! I almost put Aldi--you know, the discount grocery store? Not quite the same thing I'm afraid.)

3. With the fashion industry still being a male-dominated profession, how do you think it would differ if women played a larger role? While men may dominate the profession, it is women who dominate as consumers in the fashion industry. And because women view women differently than men do, the fashion industry would reflect this difference. I think there would be a more diverse population represented in the industry, and the “standard of beauty” would change to reflect women of varying ages, sizes, races, and nationalities. In addition, I think a women-dominated fashion industry would shift even more towards sustainable, socially responsible methods and brands. I hope women do eventually dominate the industry, so we can all see just what would happen!

4. How is your self-image and the way you carry yourself informed by your beliefs? This is such a difficult question to answer! Beliefs can mean many things, but as far as my religious beliefs go, I am a Christian. My faith does play in important role in my self-image. It helps me to be grateful for my healthy body rather than dwell on its imperfections; it gives me confidence, because I know that I was created by a God who loves me despite my shortcomings. In general, I am a happier person because of my faith and that is reflected in my self-image. 

5. Do you think clothing/makeup/hair helps communicate the truth about yourself or are those things superfluous add-ons? While this may not be so for everyone, I believe that my outward appearance reflects who I am. It doesn’t reveal everything, but through my clothing others can see some of what’s important to me. Dressing professionally for work shows that I value my job; wearing lots of colors and quirky accessories shows that I don’t take myself too seriously and that I like to have fun; wearing ruffles and bows as well as jeans and tee-shirts shows that I have many sides to my personality.

Song: I'm Just a Girl by No Doubt

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Baby, I Go Crazy

Don’t tell my pleated skirt that its pleats are too wide to be “cool” right now. I fear it would break its little lint-attracting heart. Oh, skirts don’t have feelings? I’d still keep quiet if I were you, just to be safe. Feel free to mention to my kitten heels, however, that they seem to be at the peak of coolness. Just make sure that the skirt doesn’t overhear.

If you can’t tell from all the crazy, I haven’t been sleeping well lately. At least that’s my excuse for suggesting that you talk to my clothes. The point I’m trying to make is that while I’d love to have one of those flowy, semi-sheer accordion pleat skirts I’ve been seeing everywhere, I don’t. But what I do have is a classic, cotton pleated skirt that will never go out of style; so I’m trying to show it some love even though it’s spent more than a few years hanging out in my closet. Old clothes need love too, right? 

Cardigan: NY & Co; coral ikat blouse: Loft; black pleat skirt: Gap; pearl earrings: Kohl's; black kitten-heel slingbacks: Bandolino, Marshall's

As it happens, I got a modern version of the classic 50s silhouette. Maybe not new and super-trendy, but I love it just the same.

Are there any spring trends that you’re “substituting” with something you already have in your closet?

Song: Crazy by Aerosmith

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Dinner Tonight: Spicy Wings and Cheesy 'Taters

Chicken wings and mashed ‘taters. If that isn’t comfort food, my friends, then what is? (Ice cream? Yes, that too.) I’ve been on a mashed potato kick lately. I’m glad I found this recipe on Picky Palate, because it takes the mashed potato, which I admit is lovely just the way it is, and kicks it up ever-so-much. Smoked paprika is added, which gives the potatoes a rosy tint, along with cheddar cheese. And who can resist cheesy potatoes? No one I know.

To accompany these smoky, cheesy spuds I indulged a craving for chicken wings. The recipe I used, from Living Lou (who I found on Food Gawker), called for a chipotle powder and brown sugar rub. The sweetness and the spice played off one another perfectly, and in my opinion, the sauce (which I used as a dipping sauce, not a coating) wasn’t even needed. But if you’re of the “the saucier, the better” school of wing consumption, by all means toss them around in the sauce. I won’t be offended.

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I'm So Excited, and I Just Can't Hide It

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I just got a job as a junior high French teacher! I’ve been looking for a job for over a year now, so I’m relieved and excited to have finally found one! I start at the beginning of the next school year, in August.

Now, on to the clothes. This is a personal style blog, after all. (Not that I don’t give myself permission to ramble on about who knows what as often as possible.) I’ve started a little experiment to distract myself from not shopping. Yes, the 30 for 30 is over, but no money has magically appeared in my wallet as a result of its conclusion, darn it. 

Therefore, I am trying to deliberately wear all the clothes in my closet as a way of deciding what to keep, what to donate, and what I need to buy once my purse gets a little heavier. I say deliberately, because in theory, when not doing the 30 for 30, my entire closet was at my disposal. However, the reality was that there were numerous pieces that I regularly overlooked. Case in point number one being these white jeans, whose fit is not perfect, but after seeing these pictures I think I’ll hold on to them. And everyone needs white pants for spring, right? That’s one less thing to add to my (future) shopping list.

What do you do to be creative with your wardrobe without buying anything new?

Reddish-coral cardigan: Loft; light pink blouse: Loft; white jeans: Gap; earrings: NY & Co; (invisible) shoes: Target

Song: "I'm So Excited" by the Pointer Sisters

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Spring Has Sprung

Spring has sprung
the grass is ris'
I wonder where the birdie is?
The bird is on the wing.
Oh, how absurd,
I thought the wing was on the bird.

Denim jacket: Gap; pink paisley button-up: Gap; gray cords: Loft; turquoise wood bead necklace: Target; turquoise ballet flats: Merona, Target

Whenever it gets to be Spring, I'm reminded of that poem my mom used to say. I tried to find its origin (and I'll ask her as well) but it seems that there are countless versions, and no one knows exactly who wrote it or where it's from. That doesn't surprise me, this poem is only one of the hundreds of things I say whose only explanation is, "oh, it's a my mom expression". And she probably did the same regarding her mom. Heaven knows my future children will be filled with bizarre sayings. And I can't wait. Anyway, have a poetic Monday.
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Rain Keeps Falling Down, Down, Down

Today it's rainy and dreary out. Perfect day for staying in, ordering a pizza, and cheering on my K-State Wildcats to a victory against Wisconsin (fingers crossed)!  

Since I participated in the Blogger Day of Silence yesterday, I did not yet get a chance to answer Katy of Modly Chic's Friend Friday Questions. So forgive me for being a day late, but here goes... Today's topic is about the five most important blogging lessons you've learned--and the format this week is a little different. We're just sharing our five, not actually answering any questions.

1. We are a community. (I've got all my sisters with me... sing it.) The most important lesson I've learned is if you're not involved in the community, you're just a crazy girl taking pictures of yourself! Sure, writing my blog is important, but it's just as important to read other blogs, write comments, and have conversations with other bloggers. I've made so many friends through blogging, (even friends I haven't yet met!) and they're what make being a part of this community so fulfilling.

2. The blogging time-warp. I'm not sure I want to admit how much time I spend writing posts for my blog and reading and commenting on other blogs. I mean, if I'm not working, eating, cooking or sleeping, you will probably find me zoned out in front of the computer. Blogging takes TIME. But in my opinion, it's time well spent.

3. Lighting, who knew? When I started taking (the majority of my) outfit photos outdoors, it's amazing what a difference it made. I know there are many people who take excellent indoor shots, but mine always look like night of the living dead. Natural light can work some serious photo miracles, and that goes for food photos as well.

4. Have goals, not expectations. When I started Bon Chic Bon Gastronomique, I never thought I'd get 30 people to read it, let alone over 100. Of course I make an effort to put my blog out there and promote it, but I don't have unrealistic expectations for its success. I know there are people who have made blogging their career, and as exciting as that sounds, I know that is not realistic for me. I set small, reachable goals, and I'm ecstatic with each one that I meet.

5. Guess what, this blog is about me! In other words, I've learned how important it is to be myself on this blog. I can't be anyone else. The surgery would be very expensive, and most likely unsuccessful. I'm sometimes goofy, I tell bad jokes, and from time to time, I (gasp!) make grammar errors. (Commas and parentheses, I apologize for your overuse.) I also like clothes and cooking--so that's what I write about. People have said you have to pick one thing to focus on for your blog to succeed, but you know what, I'm not going to. If you're not interested in cooking, well, I won't be upset if you ignore my food posts. Same goes for outfit posts. Bottom line, when I make decisions about this blog and what I put on it, the question I most ask myself is "is this me?" 

Black dotty cardigan: Old Navy, thrifted; pink ruffle shell: Gap; dark wash flare jeans: Gap; spectator mary janes: Isaac Mizrahi for Target

Song: "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds
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For Japan With Love

I wasn't home yesterday to do my usual blog-reading, but when I was catching up this morning I couldn't not join in on this. So aside from these few words, I'm participating in this day of silence for Japan. For more information, visit For Japan With Love

People of Japan, you have been and continue to be in my prayers.

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We are Living it Up Just Fine and Dandy

Please forgive me, it's Saint Patrick's Day and there's not a stitch of green in my outfit. Before you get all pinchy on me, know that I'm not actually wearing this today. I'm wearing green like any self-respecting St. Patty's Day celebrator should. I might even drink some green beer, who knows? 

I can't believe this is the first time these pants have made their debut on this blog. I actually got them for Christmas, and I thought about including them in my thirty, then chickened out. I wish I had, they're exactly the shot of color I was craving during that neutral-fest. 

Tonight I'm meeting up with a few girls I went to college with to hang out and speak French. That's right, nous parlons français. I'm pretty excited. I haven't seen these girls in a LONG time, and it will be great to see them. And, I'm excited to have some friends to get together and speak French with! Au revoir pour maintenant, mes amis! Happy St. Patty's Day!

Black and white stripe tee: Old Navy; red cords: Gap; black ballet flats: Gap

Song: So Young by The Corrs (They're Irish!)

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Dinner Tonight: Homemade Chicken and Noodles

February got away from me, (darn you, short month!) but for March, I was ready for Kitchen Belleicious' Recipe Challenge. I've been wanting to make my mom's homemade chicken and noodles for a while now, and this challenge was the perfect opportunity. So I called my mom to get the "recipe" (although I'm not sure it could be called that). She's made chicken and noodles so many times she just knows, you know? So this was my attempt to recreate that. For all of you who have tried to recreate one of your favorite dishes of your mom's, (or grandmas, etc.) you know just what a challenge that can be.

But the pictures below are proof that I did it. Yes, I got some real wonky-looking noodles. But the important thing is that it tasted fantastic! Maybe not exactly like my mom's, but not bad for a first attempt. 

Where I come from, you can't eat a steaming bowl of chicken and noodles without mashed potatoes. Step one: fill your bowl with the fluffy mashed 'taters.

Step two: heap chicken and noodles on top of the potatoes. Step three: eat. Repeat as necessary.

Here's the closest thing I can give you to a recipe.

Chicken and Noodles:

One whole chicken, cut up, or 4 bone-in chicken breasts (this is what I used, I like white meat best)
One onion, quartered
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
1 can chicken broth (optional: only if you don't get enough stock from the chicken)
3 eggs
flour (I have no idea how much I used--2 1/2  to 3 cups, maybe)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
mashed potatoes (this may be optional for you)

Place the chicken in a large pot and cover with water. Add the onion, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook until the chicken is done (about an hour?) then take the chicken out to cool for a few minutes.

While the chicken cooks, make your noodles. Put the eggs in a large bowl, and add enough flour to make a sticky dough. Cover your work surface with flour, as well as a rolling pin. Working in batches, take some dough, cover it with more flour, and roll it out. (Keep adding flour, otherwise it will stick.) Roll the dough very thin (maybe 1/8" or less) because the noodles will plump when you cook them. As you roll each sheet out, set it aside to dry out for a bit.

When the chicken has cooled, remove the meat from the skin and bones and shred it using two forks or your hands. Put the chicken in a bowl. I put the discarded bones back in the pot and let them cook for a little longer to add flavor to the stock. Then, strain the stock using a fine sieve, remove the onion and bay leaves, and return the stock to the pot and bring it to a boil. (At this point, if you don't think you have enough liquid, add the canned broth.)

After the noodle sheets are dry, add a dusting of flour if any still look sticky. Otherwise, you can do one of two things. Using a pizza cutter, cut each sheet into strips about 1/2" wide. Or, roll each sheet (as if you were making cinnamon rolls) and cut the log into 1/2" strips. I did the latter, because that's the way my mama does it. This sometimes results in noodle blobs, (when they stick) which might just be my favorite part of chicken and noodles. 

Add the noodles to the boiling stock, and let them cook (maybe 5 minutes?). Then add in the shredded chicken and let it heat through. Test for seasoning, then stir in the chopped parsley. Serve over mashed potatoes, if you're so inclined (which you really should be).

If you make this, please let me know how it goes. Clearly, I'm not an expert-recipe writer, so any suggestions are welcome!

Thank you so much Jessica of Kitchen Belleicious for hosting the challenge and motivating me to make this recipe!

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Everybody Play the Game

This week is Spring Break for the school districts that Aaron and I work for. It always falls at the perfect time: the week of St. Patrick's Day! I have a long list of things I need to get done this week, and hopefully I'll be able to check a few off my list. But for the most part I'm looking forward to all the fun stuff I have planned. 

Tonight, we're going over to my best friend and her fiancé's to play some board games. I don't know about you but I LOVE board games. Trivial Pursuit, Apples to Apples, Scrabble... you name it, I'm down. I mean, it doesn't cost any money (if you already have the games), with all the games out there it never gets boring, and you can play with as many or few people as you want. Tell me, what board games to you like to play? (Maybe I can get some good ideas for tonight!)

Black cardigan: Mossimo, Target; floral button up: Tucker for Target; dark skinnies: Old Navy; black riding boots: Franco Sarto, Macy's

Song: Play the Game by Queen

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Don't Tease Her

At the end of last week, we had a few beautiful, spring-like days. We busted out the Adirondack chairs, admired the tulips poking out of the ground, and prepared ourselves for spring. Then it snowed today. Oh, spring, you're such a tease! If you're in the market for frustrating, unpredictable weather, you sure can't beat Kansas. I'm just hoping that today was the snow's last hurrah of the season. Otherwise we're going to have a lot of dead tulips.

Enough about the weather. After the 30 for 30, I needed a break from dark colors and neutrals, so I decked myself out in light and bright colors all weekend. It's a little overwhelming to have my entire closet back! But somehow, I'll manage. 

By the way, Isabel of Walk of Fashion is featuring me on her blog today. Go here to check it out. Thanks Isabel! 

Yellow dot button up: J.Crew, thrifted; skinny jeans: Loft; turquoise and green necklace: Forever 21; turquoise ballet flats: Merona, Target

Song: Try a Little Tenderness by Otis Redding

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These Brownies are so Good They Don't Need Ice Cream

Yeah, that's right. I'm going to venture to say that these may be the best brownies I've ever had, and definitely the best I've made. Yes, that's a daring thing to say. But that's the kind of gal I am. 

Can I take the credit for these fudgy squares of deliciousness? No, I can't; it belongs to Jessica of Kitchen Belleicious. And despite the fact that I couldn't manage to take a picture worthy of them, I figured this brownie recipe was worth passing along. She calls them the "best brownies you will ever have", and I, for one, cannot argue with that. 

I tried to get fancy and sprinkle sea salt on them a few minutes before I took them out of the oven. I love the interesting contrast of flavor it added, but I waited too long to sprinkle the salt. So it ended up just sitting on top of the brownies. That's what I get for being fancy.

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