Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cupcake Muffins (Vegan & Gluten Free)

Merry Christmas Eve!  I'm really excited about this new recipe I created today.    Actually, I simply jazzed up an old recipe of mine (Banana Oat Muffins) to make it more festive for Christmas.  These came out just as moist as the original recipe but, the added chocolate makes them rich & decadent & the dried cherries add some sweet zing.  They are too decadent to just be called a muffin but , not quite a cupcake since there is no frosting, so, I decided to call them "cupcake muffins".  And these are really easy to make since everything goes in the food processor.   These would be great for a Valentine's Day treat as well!


2.5 cups Gluten Free Rolled Oats
1/4 C good quality cocoa / cacao powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 TbSp ground flax seed
1 cup full fat coconut milk (mixed well).  The canned version or homemade*Native Forest has the BEST amount of "cream" compared to other brands I have tried.
1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup to keep it truly vegan)
1 tsp vanilla
2 ripe bananas 
1 Cup Dried Cherries (halved/chopped)


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
    grease your muffin pan (I use Spectrum Organic's Shortening...it's soy free!)
  2. With your chopping blade in place, process the oats in a food processor for 30-60 seconds 
  3. Add the the dry ingredients (baking powder & soda, cacao/cocoa powder & flaxseed meal) to the food processor and pulse until mixed.
  4. Add the wet ingredients (vanilla, coconut milk, honey & bananas).
  5. Process for about  30-45 seconds to ensure everything is well mixed.
  6. Remove blade, scraping batter off into work bowl.
  7. Add chocolate chips & cherries and stir well.
  8. Place 1 heaping tablespoon or ice cream scoop of batter into each muffin tin.
  9. Bake for 16-18 min.

1 recipe makes 16-18 cupcake muffins  

*Affiliate Disclosure: Some (or all) of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ultra Decadent Paleo Hot Chocolate - Only 4 Ingredients & Coconut Whipped Cream

I'm FINALLY back to blogging some recipes.  After our recent move I have been MIA for quite a while but, I have continued to be busy in the kitchen so, I have a lot of catching up to do.  I really hope I can get at least one new recipe up each week.  But with 2 kiddos and homeschooling, we shall see.  I have no clue how other blogger Mommie's do it.  NO. CLUE!

With all of this cold weather we are not used to, I have been on a mission to create a rich, decadent hot cocoa recipe free of dairy, soy, refined sugars etc.  But, not necessarily free of fat.  I had to leave some fun in there!  ;)  I was making yet another recipe last week when I opened my cabinet and my package of raw cacao butter fell out of the cabinet.  Naturally, I decided to toss some into the pot to see what would happen.  Oh! My! Ganache!!!   This was exactly what my cocoa needed all along!  This recipe is almost like drinking a cup of hot, melted ganache (only not quite as thick).  It has a smooth, rich, coat your ribs kind of texture and it's sweet but, not sickeningly so.  And the cacao powder no longer sinks to the bottom of the mug.  When topped with some homemade coconut whipped cream, it's pure heaven right in your mug.

I HIGHLY recommend using the full fat coconut milk for the best experience.  My favorite brand aside from making my own is Native Forest Organic Classic Coconut Milk.  It is by far the richest version of canned coconut milk I have come across and if you let it settle in the fridge, you will see that it has the highest content of "cream" (coconut fat).  Raw cacao butter is pretty pricy but, it's worth every penny.  Especially in this recipe.

While I have been making more and more "paleo" recipes, I do not follow a paleo diet.  However, I added paleo to my title because I have found this is the easiest way to let people know that the recipe is free of, grains, gluten, dairy, processed/refined sugars etc.  

Anyways, I hope you & your family love this recipe as much as my family & I do.  Enjoy!

Ultra Decadent Paleo Hot Chocolate

Serves 2-4 (depending on the cup size)


--4 Tbsp.of good quality cacao or cocoa powder.  (So far I have used Earth Circle Organics Raw Balinese Cacao Powder but, waiting for Navitas Naturals to come in the mail).

--1/4 C Raw Honey

--2 cans full fat coconut milk room temp, shaken well

--Apx. 4 Tbsp. of raw cacao butter (I used Bright Earth Foods Organic Raw Cacao Butter) (I used 4 good sized chunks out of my bag...just eyeball it).


  1. Mix honey & cacao powder together in the pot, add a small amount of coconut milk until it forms a thick "sauce".
  2. Turn heat on med/high.
  3. While whisking, add the cacao butter and whisk continusly until the cacao butter has melted.
  4. While continuing to whisk, slowly pour the rest of the coconut milk in & whisk until hot but, not boiling.
  5. Remove from the heat, pour into mugs and garnish with a dollop of coconut whipped cream (see below) and a sprinkle of cinnamon if you wish.  (it adds a tasty touch).

There is an abundance of recipes and tutorials for making this.  I'm just posting how I make mine here so you won't have to go look somewhere else.  It's super simple...2 ingredients and done in 1 min.


--1 can of full fat coconut milk chilled upside down in the back of the fridge for at least 1 day...several is better.  (Or 1 C of homemade WITH fat).

--Aprox. 1 Tblsp. of raw honey or a little more to taste.


  1. Open the can and pour off the liquid.
  2. Scoop out the "cream" (coconut fat) into a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the honey.
  4. Using an electric mixer, cream the fat & honey together until smooth & creamy.  OR using a hand whisk, whisk it vigorously.
Use on top of hot cocoa, dairy free ice cream or any dessert that you would normally enjoy topped with cream.  Use it in any recipe that calls for whipped cream.

*Affiliate Disclosure: Some (or all) of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Maple Almond Vanilla Granola *Homemade Christmas 2012*

So, I'm obviously REALLY late posting the homemade gifts I made this past Christmas.  Better late than never right?  I actually wanted to post this before Christmas but then, my family would have seen what they were getting so, that idea was out.  So then I figured I would just want until Fall rolled around since that's the official start to the holiday season.

Stephanie over at Keeper of the Home posted some easy, frugal gift ideas a while back, which of course, I pinned.  When the Christmas season rolled around, I was determined to put some of my pins to use and make some homemade Christmas gifts.  First, since these gifts were for the grandparents, I framed a pictured of the kiddos w/ Santa.  Next up were Monogrammed Tile Coasters which I saw several tutorials for on Pinterest.  This looked simple enough and turns out, it was pretty frugal too! I did have just a little trial & error with getting the right placement, and pressure with the stamps so, I kept those for our home.  I have to say though, I REALLY love them.  The stone absorbs condensation really well.  I used Chiaro Stone Tiles (a pack of 12 is just over $3).  I LOVE how no 1 tile is alike, making each one, truly one of a kind.  I chose a Japanese inspired theme with bamboo & cherry blossoms and used a permanent black ink stamp pad.  And on the bottom, I placed round, self adhesive felt bumpers on each corner.  (Can't get much faster or easier than self-adhesive!)  I used med. sized rounds.  I love how they lift the tile up off the table, making it really easy to pick the coaster up and move it.

And finally, I also paired the gifts with a jar of some homemade granola.  I started with a recipe from Earthbound Farm's which I found on the list mentioned above but, I made quite a few changes such as adding Pumpkin Seeds & Vanilla.  It came out delicious!  My Father-in-law talks about it every time we talk.  I made if for him again on his last visit to Florida & when we visit them again soon, he has already asked if I would be willing to make him some while we are there.  And my Grandmother recently asked me for the recipe.  When I make it at home it does not last long because Mr. A & I go through it pretty fast.  You can eat it straight up or enjoy it sprinkled on top of dairy free yogurt, add some crunch to your oatmeal, spread some peanut or almond butter on apple slices and top it with the granola or my favorite...on top of some dairy free vanilla ice cream.  I am only just now realizing that I forgot to add the word "Vanilla" to my gift tags.

Maple Almond Vanilla Granola


4.5 C Organic Whole Oats (not quick cook)
1 C Raw Sunflower Seeds
1 C Raw Pumpkin Seeds
2 C Blanched, Slivered Almonds
4 Tbsp Ground Cinnamon
2 Tbsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1 1/4 C Pure Maple Syrup (I use Grade A, Dark Amber)
1/3 C Coconut Oil, slightly melted
2 Pinches of Sea Salt
4 C of Raisins


  1. Preheat your over to 325
  2. Mix the oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds & almonds together in a large bowl.
  3. Mix the cinnamon, vanilla, maple, salt & coconut oil together in a small bowl and pour over oat mixture.  
  4. Stir well until the oat mixture is fully covered.
  5. Spread out on a large, rimmed baking sheet and bake for aprox. 48 min. stirring every 12 min.  (I find it helpful to just set the timer for 12 min 4 times so I remember to stir).
  6. In the last 12 min, watch very carefully to make sure it does not over brown.  Or you may also need to keep baking for up to an additional 12 min. depending on your oven.  Again, watch carefully.
  7. Transfer warm granola to a really large bowl or a large pot (you will want lot's of stirring room) and add the raisins.  Stir until well combined.
  8. Store in an airtight container or in mason jars for gift giving.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Make-ahead Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten, Dairy & Soy Free)

Back when I was pregnant with Mr. L, I discovered the Immaculate Baking co. chocolate chip cookie dough.  It was so yummy both baked or right out of the freezer.  (Yes, I eat raw cookie dough, eggs and all...as long as it's been frozen).  But, my excitement was short lived when I discovered the dough had soy.  Soy causes a LOT of issues for me (though, while pregnant...not quite as much).  So, I studied the ingredient list on their package and decided to create my own version of the cookie dough.  After only 2 attempts, I think I hit the nail on the head!  This recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies which is great if your serving a ton of people.  Not having a party?  Even better because this dough can be formed into balls and frozen, so then you can enjoy a cookie or two...or six... anytime the mood strikes.  And honestly, they bake up a little fluffier when you bake them from frozen (soft in the middle and crispy on the edges). Pictures of the fluffier version to follow soon.  If you bake them from just being chilled in the fridge, they will be a little more flat and a little more crispy.  But still oh, so tasty!  And if you don't have reservations about eating raw cookie dough, then you will LOVE having some on hand in the freezer.  And next in line to be blogged is a Maple Bacon version of this cookie.  Out of 4 dozen, only 3 were left after my sons 1st Birthday.  And those 3 didn't last much longer.

 Make-ahead Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten, Soy & Dairy Free)


1/2 tsp. Xantham Gum
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 C Potato Starch
3/4 C Rice Flour
3/4 C Tapioca Starch
1 C Soy-free Shortening  (I use Spectrum Organic). *see note below
1 1/2 C Coconut Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Tblsp. Molasses
1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
1-2 C Chocolate Chips (I use Enjoy Life Brand) **see note below

Dough Directions:
  1.  In a medium bowl, blend the Xantham Gum, Baking Soda, Salt, Potato Starch, Rice Flour & Tapioca Starch together with a whisk and set aside.
  2. In the large work bowl of your electric mixer, cream the shortening until smooth.
  3. Add sugar and cream until well mixed.
  4. Add eggs one at a time.
  5. Add Vanilla & Molasses.
  6. Turn mixer to very low speed and slowly add flour mixture in, scraping the sides.
  7. Once all of the flour has been added and mostly mixed in, turn mixer speed up to mix really well.
  8. Stir the chocolate chips in by hand.
  9. Transfer dough to a large sheet of wax paper, place in bowl and cover well.  Chill for several hours.  (Overnight is often best if you want to make cookie dough balls to freeze).
  10. If freezing, once the dough is fully chilled, it should be pretty firm.  Rub your hands with coconut oil and start forming balls of dough about 1&1/2" in diameter.
  11. Place your balls on a sheet of wax paper in an airtight container and separate each layer of dough balls with wax paper.  This will make it SO much easier to grab what you need when your ready to bake. 

Cooking Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325

From room temperature: Bake for  apx. 12 min.

From the fridge: Bake for apx.  16 - 18 min.  (Mine are usually done by 16)

From frozen:  Bake for apx. 18-20 min.  (mine are usually done by 18)

*I like to use 1/2 regular shortening & 1/2 butter flavor shortening.  However, I have made it with just regular and they still taste fantastic.  Spectrum Organic is the only soy free shortening I have found.

**2 cups of CC's is a standard amount however, I was short on CC's the last time I made this recipe and turned out 1 C worked just as great.  I actually like them with a little less chocolate.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Quick & Easy Garden Turkey Burgers *sneak those veggies in!* Gluten Free

So I threw this together last night and they are SO tasty!  Not sure what to call them...I'll go with Garden Turkey Burgers for now.  Miss M gobbled hers up and had no idea they were full of spinach.  :)  Forgive my crummy picture...it was the last burger (yep...6 burgers since last night...GONE) and I wanted to blog this asap since I did not write it down.

*preheat your oven to 375 F


1 20 oz. package of ground turkey
1 egg
1/2 Cup Organic or GF Oats
2 handfuls of raw pumpkin seeds
2 handfuls of raw sunflower seeds
3 large handfuls of spinach leaves
1/4 of a large onion
salt & pepper. 


Process the oats, seeds, onion and spinach until it's like a course paste. 
By hand, mixed it in with the turkey, egg, salt & pepper until very well mixed.  Form 6 burgers and place on a baking sheet.  Bake at 375 for 40-50 min.  Another successful way of sneaking in more greens for Miss M.  :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Creamy Avocado Spinach Sauce (Raw, Vegan & Grain Free)

 I made this up on a whim one evening so we could break free from the standard marinara sauce over pasta.  This is a super quick and easy sauce to make and if you have leftover gluten free pasta already in the fridge, then you won't have to do any cooking for dinner.  It's quite flavorful too.  Miss M initially turned her nose up at it because of the color, but, once she took a few bites she finally admitted that she liked it.  (Your classic Green Eggs & Ham moment).  It's also delicious over freshly roasted spaghetti squash for a completely grain free, plant based diet.  Enjoy!

Creamy Avocado Spinach Sauce - Raw

2 large handfuls of raw Baby Spinach

Juice & zest of 1 California Navel Orange
Juice of half a Lime
2 Avocados
2-3 large cloves of Garlic, crushed
1/2 Tbsp. dry Basil
1/4 tsp crushed Black Pepper
3/4 tsp Salt


Puree everything until smooth in your food processor or blender. Toss over chilled gluten free pasta or freshly roasted spaghetti squash.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Autumn Ambrosia

I have not posted anything new in a while.  These kiddos sure do keep my busy!  :)  Especially now that we are partially homeschooling our oldest, Miss M.  My list of recipe creations in my recipe journal is really growing...I may never catch up.  I hope to get at least 1 new recipe up per week for the time being.  I really don;t get how other mom's are able to do this on a daily basis.  Anyways... in preparation for Mr. L's 1st birthday, I came up with a fall themed menu.  I knew I wanted to serve fresh fruit but, fruit salad usually screams summer in my opinion.  So, I came up with the idea to only use fall fruits.  As I pondered it more, I decided I wanted to make it more like an ambrosia... A very healthy, dairy free version.  Plus, Autumn Ambrosia sounds nicer than Autumn Fruit Salad.  Don't ya think? The recipe is pretty simple but, delicious!  Although it's tasty when eaten immediately, I suggest making this the night before you plan to serve it so that the flavors really meld together.  This is great served as a side at a party or even as a healthy make-ahead breakfast.  This recipe can serve 6-10 depending on the serving sizes taken.  (i.e. if your serving a lot of food at a party, guests are likely to take less of any given item to save room for other items.)

Autumn Ambrosia


1 cup of coconut fat (either from homemade coconut milk or from a chilled can of full fat coconut milk)
1/2 Tblsp. Apple Pie Spice
1 Apple, diced (I used Gala because I could not find Honeycrisp yet but, If I had, that's what I would use).
1 Bosc Pear, diced
1 Bartlett Pear, diced
1 C Red Grapes, halved
1 C dried Cranberries (I get mine in the bulk section at the health food store... They are bigger, moister, softer & less sweet than the Craisins brand).  
1 C chopped Pecans, toasted (if serving at a party, keep separate in case of allergies).


  1. Using a hand mixer, whip coconut fat & spice until smooth and creamy.
  2. Add all of the chopped fruit, cranberries & pecans (unless serving to a crowd with allergies).
  3. Mix well & enjoy!  (Best enjoyed the next day).  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Blessed is the Family....

I follow a lot of great blogs via Facebook and ever so often, one of them may host a giveaway that completely swoons me.  Well, more than 6 months ago, one of the bloggers I follow (I can't remember who), did just that.  The giveaway was something from Red Letter Words.  As part of the giveaway, we were supposed to peruse their site & pick the thing we loved most. I came across this set which comes from Psalm 1:1-3 and I just fell head-over-heels in LOVE with it.

I had been wanting to get some sort of scripture regarding my family on my walls for the longest time.  I did not win the giveaway and seeing that this set was priced at $165 - $465 (depending on your mounting option), I could see that this was clearly out of my price range.

But, I'm crafty and I knew, where there is a will, there is a way.  So I saved the image on my computer so I could refer back to it when I was ready.  I grew really excited about this plan because I could customize it to the colors I want AND I envisioned putting a tree into the painting.  But, I loved that "typed" effect of the words & I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to certain things so, I knew I did not want to freehand my words.  I paid a visit to my Other Crafty Ventures board on Pinterest.  My first plan was to use stickers, paint over them and peel them off as I saw on this pin from Brassy Apple.  But, this idea was simply not going to pan out for various reasons...the biggest being that the stickers were really hard to peel off after painting over them.  I had some other tutorials pinned but, they seemed a little too complicated for my liking.  Then...just recently, one of my friends pinned another tutorial for transfering words using chalk.  Now THAT I could do!  And, the best part was, I was able to pick fonts closer to what I envisioned as opposed to the sticker collection at Michael's & JoAnn's.  So I finally got to work...

First I printed & planned out my placement

Then I used my daughter's sidewalk chalk on the back

Then, after taping everything in place, I started tracing

"It's working!!!" 

Then I traced carefully with paint before filling in the letters

I would trace & paint-trace one row at a time to ensure that my hand or arm would not rub the chalk off on the words further down.  It was a little tedious but, worth it because I am really pleased with the final outcome...

I couldn't get these on my walls fast enough! They are mounted just inside our front door.  :)

The passage in the tree trunk.

So thankful for how it turned out.
I am still pondering if I want to add a little something to my tree...perhaps some colorful dots or a little bird...or maybe a family of birds...one for each of us.  I might down the road but, for now, I think I'll leave it alone.  I'm too nervous to have come this far and possibly ruin it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Banana Oat Muffins *Vegan & Gluten Free* - A Pin Re-Spin

I finally got around to making another pinned recipe, these Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins looked so moist in the picture that they just called my name anytime I would scroll through my pins.  But, as always, I had a few changes to make. :)  And it's funny because, Debbie Reichert at Fit & Healthy adapted her recipe from another blogger.  So this muffin recipe has definitely evolved.  The first was using GF Oats to ensure it would be Gluten Free and the next thing was finding something to replace the yogurt to make it dairy free....full fat coconut milk sounded good to me.  I actually fully intended to use the 2 eggs the original recipe called for however, I only had 1 on hand and I had already added the other ingredients to my food processor.  So, I improvised by adding an extra tablespoon of flaxseed meal.  (I usually soak it in 2 tablespoons of hot water to use as an egg replacement but, I figured the extra moisture from the coconut milk would suffice).  I chose to go with Enjoy Life chocolate chips for my add in because, who doesn't love just a little chocolate?   The muffins came out delicious and the texture was fabulous.  But, the more I thought about it, I figured, if they came out great with only 1 egg, then maybe, I can just eliminate the egg all together and make these vegan friendly.  I still had 3 more overripe bananas sitting on my counter and the muffins were a hit with the whole family so I knew they would not last long.  Sooooo...I went for it & whipped up another batch lickety-split.  The end results?  Perfection!  They had the exact same texture as the first batch (they are mixed in a container and there is no telling which is which now).  These really are SO good!  Paired with some fresh fruit (and a cup of coffee), these are a great way to have a quick and easy breakfast.  And they are perfect for young kids to serve themselves if they are asking for a snack.


2.5 cups Gluten Free Rolled Oats
1 cup full fat coconut milk (mixed well).  The canned version or homemade.

1/2 cup honey
(or maple syrup...My next batch will include maple and pecans... mmmmm)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

4 TbSp ground flax seed
1 tsp vanilla
2 ripe bananas 

Optional Mix-In Ideas:

1/4 C Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips
1/2 C chopped Macadamia nuts, almonds, walnuts or pecans.  (I just LOVE macadamia paired with banana)
1/4 - 1/2 c Raisins, chopped apricots or other dry fruit
A little combination of 2 or more


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
    grease your muffin pan (I use Spectrum Organic's Shortening...it's soy free!)
  2. With your chopping blade in place, process the oats in a food processor for 15 seconds. (The original pin said no flour, however, this process creates Oat Flour.)
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients (in no particular order) to the food processor.
  4. Process for about  30-45 seconds to ensure everything is well mixed.
  5. Remove blade, scraping batter off into work bowl.
  6. Add mix-in of choice and stir well.
  7. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of batter into each muffin tin. (if there is any batter remaining, divvy it up among the ones with the least amount to even them all out).
  8. Bake for 16-18 min.

1 recipe makes 12 muffins  

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Spiced Peanut Dipping Sauce - Dairy Free

I made this recipe up on a whim nearly 3 years ago.  Miss M loved to have something to dip her apples and carrot sticks in when I packed her lunch but, I also wanted her to get more protein, so this is what I came up with.  I served it at her 4th birthday party with apple slices, celery, pear slices, carrots, crackers & pretzel sticks.  It seemed to go over really well with the party guests and I put the recipe on my personal Facebook page to share it and completely forgot about blogging it until I whipped some up last week.  It's quick & easy to make and will keep in the fridge for 2-4 weeks (depending on when your Almond Milk is set to expire).  I also like to dip a banana in it for a simple breakfast.


1/2 C creamy peanut butter
1 TblsSp Maple Syrup OR Honey
1 1/2 tsp Apple Pie Spice (Recipe for Homemade Here)
1/2 C unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk


  1. Place peanut butter, sweetener of choice and apple pie spice in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Drizzle just a little milk and start mixing quickly while slowly drizzling more milk...it will seem thick, curdled and pasty at first...just keep stirring.
  3. Once all of the milk is mixed in, it should be creamy and slightly fluid.
  4. Dip & Enjoy! 

Homemade Apple Pie Spice

Making your own Apple Pie Spice is super easy.  There are tons of different variations out there.  I based mine off of an old Apple Pie Recipe and added cardamom because I LOVE it. This is not just for making Apple Pies either.  I use it often in my Spiced Peanut Dipping Sauce.  I also use it in my super simple Fried Apples recipe (which I toss on oatmeal, pancakes and my favorite...vanilla coconut milk ice cream).  A single batch of this should last you a good while.


1/2 cup ground cinnamon
2 TblSp ground allspice
4 tsp ground nutmeg
4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cloves


  1. Put all spices into a jar (I love to re-use my Maranatha Almond Butter jars for stuff like this...so easy to reach a measuring spoon in and scoop what you need or your fingers if you just need a pinch).
  2. Close lid, and rotate jar until spices are well mixed.
  3. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Juicy Grape & Broccoli Pasta Salad - A Pin Re-Spin

(picture coming soon)
It was time for our annual church family picnic on Sunday and while looking through my pin boards, I figured my Summer Recipes board would be the perfect place to start.  I settled on this Broccoli Salad recipe but, of course I had to put my own spin on it.  Especially when I saw how much sugar it called for.  Yuck!  In the recipe I created, I replaced the 1/3 C of sugar with just 1 Tablespoon of maple syrup.  However, I also doubled the grapes and, realized in the end, that the grapes add some much juicy sweetness that it really didn't need any maple syrup either.  And since my pregnancy with Mr. L, I have had a thing for bacon (which kind of grosses out Mr. A I think) so, I more than doubled the bacon.  And of course, I had to include gluten free pasta, plus I added a couple more of my own elements.  This is a plan ahead meal since you should let it sit for 8 hours at the very least.  But, I think it has the best flavor 24 hours after making it.  So, here we go...


For the Salad:

2 C pecans (whole or chopped)
2 8 oz. packages of Ancient Harvest Organic Quinoa Pasta (I used the Rotelle shape but, any small shape would work fine)
 2 Lbs. fresh broccoli
1/3 C finely diced red onion
4 C seedless red grapes, coarsely chopped in the food processor
2 Packages of Applegate Bacon (apx. 22 slices total) cooked and crumbled

For the Sauce *Your going to make this sauce twice*:

 2 cup mayonnaise (separated) *I use Earth Balance MindfulMayo w/ Olive Oil or Lemonaise (original) brands since they are soy free*
2/3 cup creamy dijon mustard *I like Grey Poupon's Mild & Creamy w/ White Wine*
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 C non-dairy creamer *I use SoDelicious Coconut Milk creamer (original, red carton)*
2 teaspoon salt
1 tsp crushed black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 375° and place bacon from 1 package on a large, shallow baking sheet.  Bake for 20 min. or less (watch carefully in the last 5 min.).  Repeat with 2nd package.
  2. Place bacon on paper towels to cool off and then crumble and set aside.
  3. Increase oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
  4. Pulse pecans briefly in a food processor and set aside.
  5. Prepare pasta according to package directions, drain and rinse with cold water.
  6. Meanwhile, cut broccoli florets from stems, and separate florets into small pieces using tip of a paring knife. Discard stems/stalks.
  7. Whisk together all of the ingredients for the sauce.  Separate the sauce by half and store 1 half in the fridge.
  8. Mix together pasta, broccoli, onions, grapes, pecans and bacon.
  9. Pour the other half of the sauce on the salad and mix well.
  10. Chill overnight or even better, for 24 hours.
  11. Just before serving, pour the 2nd half of the sauce onto the salad and mix well.
  12. Serve Chilled

Monday, June 10, 2013

Super Easy Chocolate Ganache - Dairy & Soy Free

Oh my Ganache!!!  With only 4 simple ingredients, this is a SUPER easy and fast recipe to make.  Especially if you have a food processor.  The next time I make this, I will take more pictures of the process and of the ganache in it's fluid state.   Ganache can be poured over cakes, used to coat cake-pops (as shown above), poured into pie fillings or over something like my Cherry Vanilla Almond Bars.

And it can even be eaten right out of the jar for a quick pick-me up treat.  It's like eating a small chocolate
candy but, WAY better (and healthier too)!  And you can add a dolop of it to your coffee for an intense mocha treat. Toss a little in your smoothie or even in your oatmeal.  Wherever you might enjoy some deep chocolate flavor. 

You could also warm some back up and drizzle over dairy free ice cream, bananas or fresh strawberries. (Chocolate covered strawberries anyone?)

This recipe is a very intense, dark, bittersweet chocolate flavor.  And best of all it's dairy free and soy free (hard to find with chocolate).  And it only has 4 simple ingredients.  Easy Peasy.


Super Easy Chocolate Ganache 

Dairy & Soy Free


8oz. package of Unsweetened Baking Chocolate Squares (all natural, 100% cacao) OR 8 oz. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 13.5 oz. can of Coconut Milk (full fat, not light & unsweetened) *I like Native Forest Organic Classic
1 TblSp. Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 C Honey OR Maple OR Coconut Sugar


  1. Open all of the chocolate squares, break in half and toss into your food processor.
  2. Pulse until finely chopped, set aside in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Shake coconut milk well, add to a small sauce pan along with the vanilla and sweetener of choice.
  4. Bring to a boil over medium/high heat while stirring often.
  5. Immediately pour over chopped chocolate and stir well until fluid.
  6. Use whats needed and store the rest in a glass jar in the fridge.
 *Same great recipe, New Look!  This post has been updated to reflect newer photography & affiliate links on 6/18/14*
 *Affiliate Disclosure: Some (or all) of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.*

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Cherry Vanilla Almond Bars - A Pin-Respin

So I found and made this recipe for Almond Power Bars about a year ago.  They were pretty good, but, the chocolate was just a little too sweet and made it a little too heavy so I got tired of them before the pan was gone.  Recently, I had created my own dairy free chocolate ganache recipe and while browsing through my Been There, Done That, Will Definitely Do it Again board, it hit me...the ganache would be perfect on these bars.  But, I decided to make a couple of other modifications and thus, Cherry Vanilla Almond Bars were born.  These are SO delicious and pretty darn healthy too!  I have no guilt whatsoever having one for an afternoon pick-me up or allowing my 5 year old to eat them as a snack either.  It's actually a great way for me to get more protein in her.  Although she thinks it's a decadent treat.  SCORE!  I'm sure these would taste great w/out the ganache as well, but, why would you ever omit something as wonderful as chocolate?   ;)

Cherry Vanilla Almond Bars


1 cup of dried, sweetened cherries
2 cups raw almonds
½ cup flax meal (I use golden flaxseed meal)
½ cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
½ cup almond butter (I like Maranatha Creamy)
½ tsp salt
½ cup coconut oil (organic, unrefined is best)
2 TblSp maple syrup OR honey OR my favorite, 1 TblSp of each
2 TblSp real vanilla extract
Approximately3/4 C of my Dairy Free Chocolate Ganache.  (Make a full batch and store the rest in the fridge, you will thank me later)


  1. Toss your cherries in the food processor and pulse for about 30-40 seconds to get them chopped, but not pureed.  Set aside in a small bowl.
  2.  Place almonds, flax meal, shredded coconut, almond butter and salt in the food processor (no need to wash the cherry goo)
  3. Pulse briefly, about 10 seconds
  4. In a small sauce pan, melt coconut oil over very low heat
  5. Remove coconut oil from stove, stir in sweeteners and vanilla
  6. Add coconut oil mixture to food processor and pulse until ingredients form a coarse paste
  7. Stir in the cherries
  8. Press mixture into an 8 x 8 pan/glass dish
  9. Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour, until mixture hardens
  10. After the almond mixture sets, now it's time to make your Ganache
  11. Pour apx. 3/4 cup of ganache (I didn't really measure, just eye-balled it) over the almond mixture and spread out evenly edge to edge.  It should be just thick enough to cover all of the almond mixture w/ out seeing through the ganache.
  12. Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour before cutting into bars.
  13. Remove from refrigerator, cut into bars, serve & enjoy!
  14. Keep the rest covered and stored in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.  (Although, I seriously doubt they will last that long).

Friday, May 24, 2013

Mocha Banana Smoothie

Ever since I had Mr. L back in September, I have been on this crazy smoothie & oatmeal kick.  That's all I have for breakfast on any given day, one or the other.  Well, if I have a smoothie, I have both since I put oatmeal IN my smoothies.  It makes them so thick & creamy and really makes it stick to your ribs if you know what I mean.  And sometimes I will also have a smoothie for lunch.  It's a fast, convenient way for me to get a "meal" in my system while keeping up with the kiddos.  Sometimes I find myself in a smoothie rut, making the same recipes over and over.  Well yesterday, I changed it up on a whim and I just HAD to blog it because it came out SO good!  As I was getting ready to make a smoothie for lunch, my half-consumed iced Americano was sitting on the counter staring at me.  That's when it hit me!  Coffee...chocolate..bananas...oatmeal...almond butter (for protein).  Oh. My. Deliciousness!!

Since I usually don't have iced Americano's sitting around my house I decided to re-create it again this morning, brewing my own coffee.  But, I was out of almond butter so I tried peanut butter which, although it has a more distinct flavor, still worked equally delicious in this recipe.  Now that summer is in full swing, I plan on keeping my fridge stocked with homemade iced coffee.  (Decaf for me since I'm nursing).

*UPDATE 7/2/13:  So I saw a different mocha smoothie version that also included spinach...but their recipe did not have bananas and had a lot of ice (i.e. water).  I figured, why not try it out in this smoothie.  The results?  Just as delicious as before... you can;t even tell that something else was added.  I had also just purchased a huge bag of Hemp Hearts from Costco so I did that in place of the almond or peanut butter.  So the new variations are listed below.*

So, here we go...

Mocha Banana Smoothie


1 & 1/2 C Chilled Coffee
2 - 3 FROZEN Bananas *trust me, don't skip this step* 
1/2 C Rolled Oats (NOT Quick cook) *I use GF Oats*
2-3 TblSp. Creamy Almond OR Peanut Butter  OR Raw Hemp Seeds
2-3 Heaping TblSp. of Cocoa Powder
1 C Raw Baby Spinach Leaves *optional...but, I swear..you will never even know it's in there (and neither will your kids.  After all, it's already brown because of the cocoa).*
Apx. 1/4 - 1/2 C Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (or plant based milk of choice...unsweetened recommended).

Step 1 *2 Options*:
a.)  Brew 1 small cup of coffee in your machine (I use a Keurig). Add ice & stir until chill. OR b.) Use 1 & 1/2 C of cold coffee if you keep iced coffee in your fridge.

Step 2:
 Toss all of the ingredients EXCEPT for the Almond Milk into the blender.

Step 3:
While blending, slowly add Almond Milk until desired consistency is reached. *I like my smoothies thick & creamy, not watery so, I only add a little*

Step 4:
ENJOY!  Thick, creamy & oh, so delicious!!!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

100% Naturally Tinted Coconut "Grass" - Just in time for Easter

I was recently asked to make cupcakes for the Easter party that my daughter's class was having.  Besides myself, there are quite a few parents who keep their children gluten and dairy free, and limit artificial colors and sugar laden foods as much as possible.  Having experience in this area already, I was up for the challenge.

My original idea was to put green tinted coconut on top of the cupcakes as "grass" but, traditional food coloring was not an option.  So I set out for our local health food store to get natural food coloring.  No luck... they are a newer store and they have not orderd it yet.  It was already too late in the day for me to drag 2 kiddos out to a different store that's not even remotely close to my house just for food coloring.  Plus, I still had to go to Super Target for other key grocery items.  What to do, what to do?

I walked around the store racking my brain for something that might work and then it suddenly hit me.  Literally out of no where.  I came up with the idea to use... wait for it... SPINACH(shhhhh... don't tell the kids!).  You may be wondering at this point if I lost my mind.  But, somehow, I just knew deep down that it would work.  But, the coconut I was using was unsweetened so, I was definitely going to have to sweeten it up to mask any spinach flavor.  Not wanting to use traditional sugar, I decided I would make a fruit juice reduction to puree the spinach with and then fold it all into the coconut (which is pretty dry).  This was my plan.  So when I was at Target later that day, I grabbed some 100% white grape juice and organic baby spinach leaves and set for home.

The end result was more than perfect!  I can't believe how well it turned out with just my first guesses at ratios.  The puree added the perfect amount of moisture to the coconut to make it soft and fluffy, the juice reduction sweetened it just right.  Not too sweet.  And the spinach provided the perfect shade of green and nothing more...you could not tell in the least that there was spinach in there.  It tastes like sweet, moist coconut and nothing more.  And the best part is, it's REALLY easy to make!  (Cupcake & frosting recipe will be blogged soon).


2 C of 100% White Grape Juice
1 1/3 C Shredded Unsweetened Coconut (I like the Let's Do Organic brand)
1 C Packed Baby Spinach Leaves


 1.  First make a juice reduction by boiling the 2 cups of juice on high heat until reduced down to about 1/2 cup.  (Stir occasionally).  You can see in the photo how much darker the juice reduction gets...
2. Place the juice reduction in the freezer for 15-20 min to cool completely.  (You don't want to "cook" the spinach leaves).

3.  Add spinach leaves and ONLY 1/4 of the juice reduction to a blender.  (I tried my food processor first but it just kept getting spit off to the sides...my blended did the job faster and more efficiently).

4. Puree for 2-3 min total, stopping a few times to scrape down the sides.  Puree mixture should look frothy and almost creamy.

5. Place coconut in a mixing bowl and fold the puree into the coconut until very well blended.

6.  Let sit, covered for about 10 min so the coconut gets nice and soft.

Enjoy!  :)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rub-a-Dub-Dub, Fun in the Tub

After pinning this idea eons ago, I finally remembered to pick up some shaving cream.  This was a huge hit with my 5 year old and she can't wait to do it again. It only takes a minuet or so to prepare and provides at least an hour of fun, if not more.  I should note though, filling the muffin tin up all the way proved to be WAY to much.  A little "paint" goes a long way!

I love her picture.  She said it's our family (her, Daddy, Mommy & baby brother) and out yellow house.  Perfect!  :)  (she said there was also a heart and some swimming pools and a green slide.)

Happy Painting!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Vegan Grain Free Pumpkin Spice Cookies

This recipe has been in the making since October.  About 5 months now!  It first started with a recipe I pinned called Vegan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie.  But of course, I had to make changes.  First of all, I'm not a huge fan of chocolate & pumpkin together because I feel chocolate overpowers the pumpkin flavor, and if I'm having something pumpkin, it's because I want to actually taste the pumpkin.  (I just LOVE all things pumpkin!!!)  But, omitting the chocolate chips was not my only change here, so, once again, I bring you a Pin Re-Spin.  My other changes include, pumpkin pie spice in place of cinnamon, making these cookies more comparable to pumpkin pie.  I also added molasses to add a touch more sweetness and to bring more depth to the pumpkin flavor.  I added flax seed meal (as an egg replacement) to bind the cookies a little more.  Lastly, I swapped out the oil for almond coconut milk (though I'm sure just about any dairy free milk would work here, I just really love the almond coconut blend.).  Almonds are quite high in the fat & calorie content so, I felt the oil was just a bit overkill.  In the end, I finally had a vegan, grain free Pumpkin Spice cookie that we LOVE!

The cookies had just a bit of crunch on the outside and they were super soft in the center.  (But, I put them in my cookie jar before cooling 100% so they lost that bit of crunch.  Next time, I know better.)  These were seriously addicting...it took a lot of will power for me to stop at 2 cookies in one sitting.  (If I wait 5 minutes, is that long enough to consider it a new sitting?)  ;)  and even my husband said that he couldn't stop eating them.  (I'll take that as a compliment).  These were also delicious dipped in a hot cup of coffee.  Mmmm!  Or along side a nice cup of tea.  (Tazo's Sweet Cinnamon Spice is the perfect pairing for these cookies).  I have worked on & tweaked this recipe about 6 times in the last 5 months and the 2nd time I made them I tried something different, which didn't workout the way I had hoped.  But, that mistake turned into something else entirely better & different...a Pumpkin Spice Crumble Topping.  (link coming soon!)  What are you waiting for?  Go make some cookies already!  

Vegan Grain Free Pumpkin Spice Cookies (a Pin Re-Spin)

Dry Ingredients:
2 C almond flour (I used both Honeyville Grain & Bob's Redmill w/ similar results but, Honeyville is MUCH more affordable)
1 tsp baking soda
1 & 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

Wet Ingredients:
1/3 C coconut sugar
1 & 1/2 tsp. molasses
1/3 C  almond coconut milk
1 Tblsp vanilla
1/3 C pumpkin puree
2 Tblsp very hot (almost boiling) water
1 Tblsp golden flaxseed meal

  1.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2.  Mix the flax seed meal with the hot water and set aside.
  3.  In a medium bowl mix the dry ingredients.
  4. In a larger bowl, first mix the coconut sugar & molasses with a fork until very well combined.
  5. Now mix in the rest of the wet ingredients, including the flax seed mixture.  Whisk until well blended.
  6. Fold dry ingredients into wet (work smarter, not harder).  Keep mixing until the batter looks moist.
  7. Use a tablespoon to spoon dough about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and lightly flatten the cookies with the back side of a spoon (or your fingers). 
  8. Bake for 20-25 min.
  9. After removing them from the oven, gently transfer the cookies to the cooling rack by sliding the parchment  paper right off the cookie sheet onto the cooling rack. Let them cool at least 10 minutes before handling.   (Who doesn't love a warm cookie?).  But, to keep that crunch, make sure they cool completely before storing.  And if you don't like your cookies to have a crunch, then store them while they are just barely warm.
Makes about 12 cookies.