It’s SUMMER! Summer is finally here! No schedules, no lunch-packing, no nuthin’. I just love summer. It’s a time to be free, to go on fun adventures, replace bathtime with swimtime, and enjoy deliciously relaxed time together. There will be playdates, parties, birthdays, and get togethers. And FOOD. Lots of food.
I love cooking for the season. Not only is it the best way to ensure freshness of ingredients, but it is also a way to help me get into the spirit of the season. Coconut is one of those seasonal summer flavors that always tugs on me. It beckons the waves, salty air, and little happy kids, slathered in sunscreen. Coconut is just the epitome of summertime. It is one of my favorite flavors.
Many restaurants don’t offer gluten free desserts. But, one of my favorite restaurants offers coconut macaroons. So, because I am now gluten free, I tried one (in lieu of a cupcake, a piece of Texas Sheet Cake, or a cookie). I was blown away. It was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had! Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. And dipped in chocolate. I meannnn…..
I HAD to recreate it. So that I could have it at any time. Of any day. At my own whim.
So, I put together this recipe, that is both easy and incredibly flavorful.
First, you mix up some coconutty ingredients. Then you bloop them onto parchment.
Then you bake them until golden brown…
OH, SO GOLDEN BROWN!
Then, you dip those babies in chocolate!
Next, you eat them over the sink. Or in hiding. And relish the fact that not everyone in the family loves coconut, and you can eat their share.
Ohhhh, yes, boy. These are where it’s AT!
I implore you to make these. I’m quite sure you’d love them.
Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons
Crunchy and chewy, filled with a gooey coconutty texture. These are ridiculously good.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Brown 1/2 of the package of coconut. Mix that, with the rest of the coconut, and all the dry ingredients together. Mix all the wet ingredients together. Add the wet to the dry and mix well. Drop two rounded tablespoons of the mixture onto a parchment-lined pan. Bake for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler (or microwave). When the macaroons are done, cool for 2 minutes on the pan, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely. Once cooled, dip the bottom of them into the chocolate, place back on the cooled pan and refrigerate.
I love making applesauce! I feel like such a queen when I do. It always comes out so beautifully and I can’t seem to mess it up. I usually make it during the Fall-time, and it perfumes the house with a warmth of cinnamon, and apples; tart and sweet. But, because it’s now Spring and I want to get more veg down my kids’ gullets, I came up with this recipe.
I happen to love beets. I always have. I was the weird kid (#weirdkidsrock) that would eat beets straight out of the can. And alfalfa sprouts with ranch as my after school snack. I meannnnn… But beets are really quite good for you, earthy and dirt-tasting as they are! They are great for heart and liver health and full of fiber.
Bonus: you let the crock pot do the dirty work (unless you consider coring and cutting apples dirty work. and then, I can’t help you. *I leave the skins on the apples for extra fiber.).
Once everything goes into the pot, the beets lend their beautiful, jewel-toned ruby-red color to the apples. Then, the entire thing becomes that same gorgeous color when blended together!
After fruit is thoroughly washed, core and cut the apples, cut the beets into quarters, and hull the strawberries. Place them, along with the blueberries (you can add in the beet juice, if you'd like) in the Crock Pot. Add the water, lemon juice, honey, and salt. Turn on to high heat for 4 hours. Once the apples are tender, turn off the Crock Pot. Use a wooden spoon to mash to the desired consistency. You may also use a hand mixer. Enjoy hot or cold!
I have struggled with sugar addiction for a long time. Perhaps, forever. I like to call it a sweet tooth, because that’s cuter. But, it can get out of hand, rather quickly. I’m on a mission, now, to eat less sugar and find plant based alternatives. I don’t believe in withholding things that make me happy (as long as it isn’t destructive), but I’m so glad there are so many other delicious ways to indulge!
I find myself using more maple syrup and local honey as sugar alternatives, where I can. I’ve also starting using date paste. And I found a way to make it myself. It’s another easy recipe that is full of health benefits. Dates are rich in protein, many vitamins (magnesium being one of them, which helps with migraines!), and aid in digestion (they are full of fiber).
This is good ANYWHERE…spread on toast, mixed into batters where sugar would normally be, stirred into oatmeal, blended into smoothies, baked into Sweet Potato Casserole (recipe coming soon!). It’s so good. And easy!
Pit the dates. Soak them in the water overnight (warm up the water first). Then put all the ingredients in the food processor and blend until creamy and smooth. It will take a while, but it's worth the wait. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, up to 3 months...if it lasts that long!
Turmeric. The beautiful golden and aromatic spice that comes from grinding up the root of its mother plant. It’s SO warming. It’s so incredibly beautiful. And, its benefits are many. It can reduce depression (YESSS!!), inflammation, Alzheimer’s effects, it fights cancer, and makes your skin glow. The bottom line is, it’s incredible for your health. I take turmeric capsules every day and make this beautiful Golden Milk quite often. It’s easy to put together and packs a huge health punch. It’s also delicious! Win! This beauty also has cinnamon, black pepper, ginger, cayenne pepper, and local honey in it, all of which add to the health benefits.
Cinnamon is another ridiculously healthy spice. It’s high in antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. It also is antimicrobial (germaphobe here!), and is great for heart health. The black pepper is necessary because it activates the turmeric. Cayenne pepper adds a nice kick, while stimulating circulation, and helps with digestion and upset stomach. Local honey is great for allergies.
Side note: you can buy turmeric with black pepper already in it!
I have several recipes in which I use Golden Milk, oatmeal being one of them. I’ll post a recipe soon!
Try this beautiful drink and you will feel more healthful!
You may have noticed (or not, and that’s okay) that I have been gone for awhile. Almost a year and a half, now.
It wasn’t planned, but it was filled with purpose, intentional change, health issues, ups and downs, and a big adjustment to life. With my chronic illness (migraines) and corresponding anxiety and depression, it’s been a rough year, health wise. I’ve felt defeated. I’ve felt a deep darkness and sadness, a mourning for a life without pain. A mourning for the Mom and Wife, Daughter, and Friend I should be. While I’ve suffered from all of these things for many many years, it had reached a peak. A really awful peak. Sure, it ebbs and flows (not so much the chronic pain, which is most always present), but, I am starting to see the up. Praying it so. I’ve seen some real darkness in my life. A place where I am not even sure how I got there. Or how I’d climb and claw my way out. I’ve questioned God’s presence in my life, because how can I suffer so much and have Him still love me and have this as His plan for me? I’ve questioned my own existence. How can I be made for this Earth, this life, with such heavy burdens, both physical and mental. It’s taken its tolls on all aspects of my life. Anxiety and depression (along with my ever-present body pain) are monsters, but ones I’m both familiar and comfortable with, as they are my constant companions. I both hate them and respect them, as they are a part of me. Will we be lifelong friends? Maybe. Probably. But I am changing things. This is my year. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a good first three months, but we’ve still got time. Getting control of my “things” and my many hangups is priority. Changing up medications, expectations, and healthy living have been monumental these last few months. I’ve started yoga, daily workouts (save for those awful migraine-filled mornings), gluten free diet, less dairy, no cheese (it’s a trigger, among many others), and a more positive outlook, and it’s been so helpful. Do I allow myself to feel when I’m sad or upset? YES. Shoving down my hurt only hurts me more. And more deeply. Some days, I may not be ready to tap into my hurt, but when I am, I am here for myself. SELF CARE. Caring for myself. Not in a selfish way, but in a necessary way. I want to be the best me I can be for my boys, family, friends, students, co-workers, and this Earth. Because I AM FOR THIS EARTH, temporarily at least. Despite my questioning of my God, He’s never left my side. He’s been faithful, although I haven’t. He’s there. He’s here. I am His, and He is mine. This is especially poignant to me this Easter weekend. The greatest love story ever told. I am redeemed in Him. I will rise. I will rise. As Christ was raised to life. Now in Him, I live. I might not rise today, or tomorrow, but I’m getting there.
And I’m quite thankful for those who have supported me on this sometimes ugly journey. It has not been pretty or packaged up in a cute little box, as I’d have preferred, but in really messy, torn open, pieces missing, package kind-of-way.
But this is who I am. Perfectly created imperfectly in His image.
Talk about what hurts. That’s been ringing in my ears for some time. I’m ready.
So in all of that, my vision for my blog has changed drastically. I have adopted a more raw, vulnerable way of writing. I have also changed the way I eat, so my recipes will reflect that. More organic, more natural, like I aspire to be in my everyday life. You’ll also see a lot more dairy free (sometimes) and gluten free recipes.
Please keep me company on this new, refreshed, redeemed journey? I’d love to have you along.
I am segueing into food now. Because this is a food blog, afterall. No clever segue, however.
I know that Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday (yesterday). According to some random website on The Interwebs, “The buns mark the end of Lent and different parts of the hot cross bun have a certain meaning, including the cross representing the crucifixion of Jesus, and the spices inside signifying the spices used to embalm him at his burial.” In my typical blogging fashion, I made something Hot Cross Bun-ish a day after Good Friday. Side note, Good Friday is called such because, in my humble opinion, what Jesus did was GOOD. It was a horribly, hard time, but how he died for ME, for YOU, for US, was good. How do I deserve such great love? I don’t. And He loves me still.
So, I made Hot Cross Bun Muffins and Hot Cross Bun Donut Holes. An updated version of the amazing and delicious Hot Cross Bun. Gluten and almost dairy free.
So, please tuck this recipe away for next year. Or when you need a reminder of God’s overwhelming, incredible love, or of how far you’ve come in your journey, all while eating a treat. 😀
Big love and blessings,
Gluten Free Hot Cross Bun Muffins and Donut Holes
These muffins and donut holes are gluten free and mimic the flavors of a traditional Hot Cross Bun. These can be made dairy free with DF butter.
12 muffins, 12 donut holes
4Tbutter, softened(can use vegan butter, but I can't seem to give up real butter)
Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease the bottoms and tops of your silicone donut hole baking pan and put cupcake liners in your muffin tin. Cream butter, oil, and sugars in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs and continue beating. Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, raisins, and chocolate chips and mix well. Add the flour and milk, alternating, and end with the flour.
Spoon into silicone mold, filling only the bottoms. Fill the muffin tins.
Bake for 17 minutes. Remove the donut holes. Bake the muffins for an additional 7 minutes.
To add the "cross", I mixed together powdered sugar, LorAnn Oils Butter Vanilla Bakery Emulsion, vanilla, and coconut milk, until I reached the desired consistency. You can use orange juice and powdered sugar. Or just vanilla. Get creative! I then spooned it into a ziploc bag and piped the cross on the "buns".
I love old recipes. They are not only a window to the past, but a way to stay connected to the people you love. And for me? It’s the most important way of communicating. It’s my love language. My maternal Grandmother used to make a recipe similar to this one at Thanksgiving each year. She’s still with us, but it’s getting harder and harder to cook each year. I think she’d be happy that this recipe is being preserved, even if I’ve tweaked it a bit! 🙂
First of all, can we talk about how it’s called a “salad”? That cracks me up! I think they were called such because a lot of gelatins from years past had savory foods stuck in them. But this one? This one is glorious. It’s sweet. But, not overly so. It’s ruby red color shines like a gem, like shiny red balls on the tree, like Rudolph’s nose in the night. It’s covered in a delicious creamy topping, like a snowy cap. I meannnnn. It’s so good. It’s got cranberries, raspberry, pineapple, nuts, cream cheese.
It’s a breeze to make. There’s more downtime than active time. This pairs well with both a holiday turkey and ham, and you can take my actual word with that! This also makes a fine dessert. And breakfast. Or snack.
Lightly spray a 9-inch square pan with cooking spray. In a medium glass bowl, mix the Jello and 1 cup boiling water together. Stir for about 2 minutes or until completely dissolved. Stir in the cold cranberry juice, pineapple and cranberry sauce. Add the pecans. Mix well and pour into the pan. (I actually added the pecans next, and only to half the pan, because my boys do not like nuts) Cover with plastic. Refrigerate until firm.
Cream together cream cheese, sugar and sour cream until smooth. When the Jello mixture is firm, spread the cream cheese mix on top. Sprinkle a few pecans on top.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” – Luke 2:8-14
Angels hold a special place, both on the Christmas tree and in the Bible. This passage in the Bible, above, tells us of the beautiful moment an angel came down to foretell of Jesus’ birth. I imagine that after the initial shock, this great news gave the people such hope.
Below, the angel Gabriel visited Mary to tell her that she would give birth to Jesus, the son of God. I can’t imagine the fear she must have had. She was so young. She had to trust in God and put all of her fears aside. As part of our nightly Bible study, this Advent season, my sons and I discuss how Mary might have felt that night when Gabriel came down. As fearful as she might have been, she knew she needed to put all of her trust in God. She knew she did not have an easy road ahead of her, literally, physically, and emotionally. But, she did it. It’s quite a lesson for us.
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid,Mary; you have found favor with God.31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God.36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. – Luke 1:26-38
In both of these special times, God sent an angel to tell of His great news. I love the sweet image we associate with angels, here on Earth, too. For today’s lunch, I went with an angel theme. I made peanut butter and jelly angels. That silly image is not lost on me. I added some details with my food safe markers. I also packed Wheat Thins, some oatmeal raisin balls, red grapes, mandarin orange (Biggie), and some Trader Joe’s marshmallows for dessert.
May you feel the warmth of God’s truth this Season,
For tomorrow’s lunches for my boys, I went with a Christmas wreath theme. In many churches, the Christmas wreath, circling five candles, is used as a way to celebrate the Advent season, which counts down the four Sundays in December leading up to Christmas (which is the symbolized by the fifth candle). This season is so important to many families as we gather together to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and to rejoice in His glory! I know my boys might just see a wreath (with red hots!)…at least I HOPE they can see that it’s a wreath HA!…but, it was fun for me to connect it to the precious and everlasting love of Jesus.
Back to those red hots…
I used food safe spray and markers to add color, and red hots as holly berries on the wreath. There’s PB&J inside. HA! I also packed Triscuits, yogurt raisins, mandarin orange (Bigs), red grapes, and a slice of spice cake with some fun sprinkles for dessert.
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
How lovely are thy branches
O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree
How lovely are thy branches
If you celebrate, has your tree been up for a while, or do you wait? Do you have multi-colored lights, or all white? Do you have a real tree, or fake? Classic ornaments or hodgepodge? Me: been up for a while, I switch back and forth between the multi-colored and the while, all the while wishing the tree designers gave me the option for having both on at the same time, fake tree, and hodgepodge. And between you and me, I love seeing everyone’s trees through their front windows, in a non-creepy way, of course. I just LOVE that everyone has their own tree style. If you feel so inclined (and I hope you do!!), tell me about your tree in the comments! I’d love to hear about it!
For my boys’ lunches tomorrow, I made a Christmas tree shaped sandwich. I went hog wild with my colors (food safe spray and markers). I used a flower shaped sprinkle for the star. I also packed veggie crackers, a cheese stick, mandarin orange (Bigs), yogurt raisins (Smalls), red grapes, Kinder chocolate, and some red, green, and white chocolate covered sunflower seeds (Bigs) for dessert.
Well, you’ve almost made it to Friday! Yippee! That’s always cause for celebration in our house. For tomorrow’s lunches for my little turkeys, I went with a turkey theme. This just might be my altogether favorite themed lunch from over the years. I’ve probably done this one over a dozen times and it never gets old to me. I think that little turkey is so darn cute! I made a turkey shaped PB sandwich. Ain’t nobody (re: me) got time for jelly today. I used my food safe markers to add some details. I also packed some crackers, a mandarin orange (Smalls), fresh berries (Bigs), red grapes, half a cheese stick, and a pumpkin brownie with a candy corn for dessert.