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).