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 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!
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".