The Very Best Hot Chocolate

The very best hot chocolate | Frock Files

I’ve always been more of a coffee/tea/apple cider fan than a hot chocolate fanatic, but my lovely friend Monica of Smart Creative Women introduced me to this recipe and I’ve since become a convert. It isn’t too sweet and has a depth that comes from all the different flavors: chocolate, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and just a hint of salt. I like to stir a teaspoon into my morning coffee with some cream for a perfect mocha au lait. It’s equally decadent in hot water or milk, for you purists out there.

Since I’m in love with this mix and it only takes five minutes to concoct, I’m whipping some up as last minute Christmas gifts and using these printable gift tags that Monica illustrated to fancy up the packaging!

The very best hot chocolate | Frock Files
Adapted from Alton Brown’s hot chocolate recipe.


1.5 cup powdered sugar
1 cup Dutch process cocoa
2 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 t salt
2 t cornstarch
1/4 t cayenne
1/4 t cinnamon


Stir three tablespoons (or more!) into hot water or warm milk. Drift away into a chocolate-y land of bliss. (And they go perfectly with these meltaway cookies, if I do say so myself.)

The very best hot chocolate | Frock Files

Thank you for introducing me to this recipe, Monica!


P.S. Still Christmas shopping? Here are five instant gifts that don’t require shipping or hitting the mall!

Frock Files | More Simple Recipes


Weekend Links + Coming Together

Frock Files | Weekend Links + Coming Together

We dove right back in when we returned from our trip, and this week has been chock full of exciting new possibilities, projects galore, and yes, even surgery (she’s spayed!) for poor little Kona. She’s truly disgruntled about the horrific cone she has to wear for the next two days.

And all three of us are re-adjusting to life as we know it. Does anyone else have a hard time getting back into a routine after a long vacation? I was in a good rhythm before we left and I’m finding it difficult to get into the groove again.

I’ve been collecting links, and here are the five most awesome things I found to share with you:

Weekend Links

This video echoes my own thoughts. Especially the one about working hard.

What happens when a homeless man and a computer programmer come together.

Five minutes is about all the time I can take to make lunch. This soup is my new obsession!

The secret to making difficult tasks easy.

The prettiest walnut butter cookies you ever did see. Oh, and they’re GF and dairy free – bonus!


What are you up to this weekend? Last minute shopping? Tree decorating? Sleeping in? Whatever you’ve got on your plate, may it be merry, bright, and delicious.

Photo Credit BWG Magazine

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Holiday Party Goal: Fight Fat Talk

#FightFatTalk on Frock Files

It all started with a comment about cankles.

A girlfriend and I were shopping recently, when she rejected a pair of shoes she’d tried on because they accentuated her so-called thick ankles. We spiraled quickly to comparing back fat, pulling at our waistlines, and talking about how dreamy it would be to have a space between our thighs.

We aren’t unintelligent women but in the span of five minutes, we had regressed to high school. Why? We have so many other things to talk about — we’d both read the same book recently, we have interesting jobs, and we’re both NPR junkies. But instead of talking about something interesting, we were flapping our arms around like chickens to demonstrate the jiggle-ability of our arm fat.

Silence is Golden

Not long after the cankle incident, James and I began using an app called My Fitness Pal that helps to track calories taken in (by eating) and burned (with exercise). For a few days, I tracked my food without changing my habits and realized that I was eating about 30% more calories per day than I needed to. I began planning my meals in advance to fit within my 1,200 calorie budget and made two surprising discoveries:

1. My notoriously grumpy digestive system became A LOT happier
2. I stopped feeling the impulse to point out all of my physical flaws

In a study conducted by Special K, half of the women surveyed agreed with the statement, “It’s better to criticize myself before someone else does.” I found that once I started taking control of my weight management, I stopped feeling the need to engage in fat talk.

Physically, I don’t look much different, but I’m doing what I can to stay healthy and that’s made a huge change in the way I think about my body. What I figured out was this: my fat talk was more about feeling guilty for ignoring my body than it ever was about my actual weight.

How to Be More Charming

Together with Special K and Tyra Banks, I’m pledging to put an end to fat talk. Special K believes that positive self image is the key to weight management, and based on my experiences, I totally agree!

So before you make the rounds at holiday parties over the next couple of weeks, think up some conversation starters that lead the discussion away from moaning about your Spanx to something more interesting — and, really, everything is more interesting. You’ll be more charming and you’ll keep your fellow party goers from spiraling into the fat talk abyss too.

P.S. We’ll be talking about this topic on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #FightFatTalk, and we’d love to have you join in the conversation! I’d love to know how you focus on staying positive about your body image.


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Special K but, as always, all opinions are my own.

Pennies for Love: Mad Dash Date

Frock Files | Pennies for Love: Last Minute Chirstmas Shopping Date

Several years ago, I tagged along as James started his Christmas shopping on December 23rd. While I tend to collect things that remind me of a person over time, or I think of a nice thing they’d appreciate and roll with it, James goes for the home run every time. It totally stressed me out.

We were at Best Buy, waiting in a line that snaked deep into the aisles where shoppers were still browsing (“hunting” might be a better word at that point in the year), when we heard beautiful music rising up from somewhere in the corner of the store. None of that tinny elevator music — real, live voices, and even string instruments!

James and I and most of the rest of the crowd sang along until the song was finished. Everyone burst into applause. And somehow, right there beneath the halogen lights of a big box store, in a mile-long queue, it was Christmas.


In today’s Pennies for Love post, MJ is talking about how she and her husband have turned last minute shopping into a treasured holiday tradition. They make a date of it, and what’s more, they’re making memories the whole time.

We’ve still got a few gifts to buy ourselves, so I’ll be taking MJ’s example of turning our procrastination into a party! After all, who knows what surprises are waiting just around the corner.

Visit MJ’s beautiful post Wander and Wander Together.

Be My Guest Feature at Audrey’s

Chocolate Chip Meltaways

This week, you’ll have to hop on over to Audrey’s to check out my latest recipe post! Editor Giulia Doyle invited me to participate in her Be My Guest series, in which she and a food photographer prepare the same recipe and share side-by-side comparisons of their photos. Since I’m focusing on easy food gifts through the holidays, I chose a chocolate chip meltaway recipe from The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook.

I’m honored to be among previous distinguished guests, including Aran Goyoaga of Canelle et Vanille, and Susan and William Brinson of House of Brinson. So while you’re over at Audrey’s, be sure to check out the other Be My Guest posts.


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