Taking a Sickie

Relax // Frock Files

I’ve been hit hard by another cold – my second this year – so I’ll be taking this week off to recharge. Since I have a hard time slowing down, and since the past month has been particularly jam packed, I think this is my body’s way of saying, “Enough already! Relax!” I’m trying to be a better listener, so I’d better follow through.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting links to my favorite finds from around the web over at my Facebook page, so let’s keep in touch that way, okay?

Thanks for your understanding, and I’ll see you next week!


Flourless Strawberry + Chocolate Petit Fours

Flourless Chocolate Strawberry Petit Fours // Frock Files

Sometimes I take a really long time to catch on to things. My parents raved about Harry Potter for two years before I caved in and read (okay, devoured) the entire series. And then it was like, “Why did I wait so long?!” and they were like, “We told you!” because they’re a thousand times hipper than I am.

That’s how I felt when I finally made brownies with black beans. People had been pushing me to try them for awhile, but it took me until now to hop on the legume bandwagon. And then – bam – conversion was complete. I began dreaming of these brownies. I had a regular brownie and realized it wasn’t as good as these bad boys. And then I started to imagine all the different ways they could be doctored up. And then it hit me: flourless strawberry-chocolate petit fours.

Flourless Chocolate Strawberry Petit Fours // Frock Files

Brownie recipe from Babble. Glaze recipe adapted from Sugarhero.



1 19 oz (540 mL) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup cocoa
2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt

Interior: strawberry jam
Topping: Whole strawberries (or other berry of choice)


1 envelope powdered unflavored gelatin
3/4 cups water, divided use
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder


1. Preheat the oven to 350. Throw all of the brownie/cake ingredients into your food processor. Blend until smooth (blend for a minute or so, scrape the edges, and blend again). Pour into greased 8″ x 8″ pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Mix the gelatin with 1/2 cup water until combined. Allow to sit at room temperature while you continue with the other ingredients.

3. Combine the remaining water with the cream and sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat on medium-high until sugar is dissolved and mixture begins to boil. Add the cocoa powder and continue whisking for 4 to 5 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

5. Cut the brownies with a plastic knife. Layer two squares together, and trim the edges so they’re even. Spread a layer of strawberry jam between the layers.

6. When the chocolate mixture is pourable but not runny, place the brownie-jam sandwiches on a wire rack over a baking sheet and spoon the glaze over them. If the glaze is too thin, put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes and try again. Once glazed, top the petit fours with strawberries.

Frock Files | More Simple Recipes

Bookmarked: Sleep Donation

The month of March flew by, and all of a sudden the snow has turned to rain (at last!). There are few things in the world that I love more than lounging around with a book when it’s raining outside. This month’s Bookmarked pick is a short one, but I have a feeling it’ll have my wheels turning long after I take in its last word.

Bookmarked for April: Sleep Donation / Frock Files Book ClubMy book pick for April: Sleep Donation: A Novella

It’s ironic that this book, by Pulitzer finalist Karen Russell, is available in digital format only. So many reports have been released lately about the negative impact of our devices’ blue light on our sleeping patterns — and this is a book about insomnia.


The novella is set in the not-so-distant future where insomnia has become an epidemic. People are dying because they can’t get enough sleep for their bodies to function. The Sleep Corps helps insomniacs by providing sleep infusions, or the transference of restful sleep from donors to the sleepless. But as a loyal recruiter discovers, the Corps may not be what it seems.

Not Your Brother’s Sci-Fi

Are you thinking, “Ugh, Sci Fi”? I don’t blame you. The thing is, Russell, who wrote Swamplandia, has a way of infusing her stories with such empathy and humanness that you can’t help but feel that this is all on the very cusp of possibility. And since science is so very close to science fiction these days (check out the TED Radio Hour episode “Predicting the Future” – they can grow bones from your own genes!), sleep donation may not be as outlandish as it sounds.

What are you reading this month? And how are you sleeping?

P.S. Check out author Karen Russell on Fresh Air. She’s lighthearted, thoughtful, and brilliant.


Mini Cooks Do Dessert: Cupcake Cones

mini cooks cupcake cones

Believe it or not, our series on cooking with kids, Mini Cooks, is over with this final post by Sheri! We had such a great time coming up with simple and tasty food that little ones can easily get involved in.

Growing up, James’ grandma always ended a meal by saying, “You just need a little something sweet, Jamie!” So now we say it to each other all the time. Today’s post is just that — a little something sweet served up in an ingenious way. Did you know that you can bake cupcakes in ice cream cones? I didn’t, and Sheri just rocked my world with that idea as well as her game changing tips for keeping the whole process neat (ie: no sticky hands!)

Check out the entire series!

Mini Cooks Series

Prep: Recipe for Success
Breakfast: Egg in a Basket
Snacktime: Granola Bars
Lunch Vegan Smoothie
Dinner Enchilada Lasagna
Dessert Cupcake Cones

P.S. We’ve put together a Pinterest board full of ideas for getting into the kitchen with your Mini Cooks!

The Secret to Success

Frock Files // The Secret to Success

Since starting this blog, I’ve been on the verge of quitting at least a thousand times. Blogging requires self discipline, but more than that, it requires you to continuously see the big picture even when you get mired in the details. And if I’m being honest, I tend to be someone who sometimes gets caught looking at life by the day rather than as a whole. If this doesn’t make sense to you, think of it this way: you can’t read a book with your nose pressed against a page. And, hey, don’t we all want to read the story?

The Secret to Success

As you all know, I’ve recently been obsessed with the TED Radio Hour. Podcasts are one of my favorite things to listen to when I commute (when I’m not having one-person dance parties to Skrillex). In a recent episode, a business consultant-turned teacher-turned psychologist named Angela Lee Duckworth talked about the number one indicator of success across all the people she’s studied: grit.

“Grit is passion and perseverance for very long term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years.”  – Angela Lee Duckworth

Duckworth explains that in every single circumstance, it’s not the subjects with more wealth, better looks, or higher IQs who succeed; it’s the ones who can stick with it for the long run. The ones who are willing to fail, get back up, and start over.

It reminds me of another piece on success that resonated with me — an article in Inc. magazine, in which Ariana Huffington talks about failures as stepping stones to success. “My mother used to call failure a stepping-stone to success, as opposed to the opposite of success. When you frame failure that way, it changes dramatically what you’re willing to do, how you’re willing to invent, and the risks you’ll take,” explains Huffington.

Why Run the Marathon?

The “marathon, not a sprint” explanation (above) made me think of this blog, and about how whenever I’m about to walk away it’s because I’m thinking only of what’s going to be happening in the next week, or what’s been happening in the past month. But the reason I keep going is because of the bigger picture. Because the blog is part of my identity now. Because it’s connected me with so many wonderful people. Because I’ve been given so many opportunities — including my awesome job — that I never would have had before.

So even though a quarter of the year has already come and gone, I’m making a resolution for 2014: to develop more grit. Not just with blogging, but with all of my goals. It will involve working on gratitude, getting clear on goals, and seeing possibilities rather than roadblocks — all things we’ll talk about in the coming weeks.

Is grit one of your natural characteristics? Is it something you work on daily? If you, too, want to develop more grit I’d love to have you along for the ride. I’ll be tweeting and instagramming with hashtag #grit2014.

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