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.
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".
“Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beatloaf….” I can’t bring myself to say the next line! I LOVE meatloaf!!! I always have! Maybe it’s the southern girl in me or the cold meatloaf sandwiches that will inevitably happen the next day (white bread, mayo, lettuce, maybe cheese, mayo tomato, depends on my mood). Meatloaf is so good! Is it a bit dated? Sure. But, hey, so am I. I still think Mitsubishi Eclipses are cool and I still wear Dr. Marten mary janes.
I’d like to think I’ve given the ol’ meatloaf a little facelift, even if I’m still wearing Blossom dresses and cutoff jorts from Goodwill.
Take that as you will.
These little yum yums cook up much more quickly than that huge loaf (how that is even appealing, I do not know. but it is) does and are much more cute. Also a plus to me. The glaze is so delicious. Like, so so good. These reminded me of the meatloaf I used to order at the Black Eyed Pea restaurant (anyone remember that restaurant? it was major) back in the day. I told you I liked meatloaf. So much so that I used to order it at a restaurant. I’m weird like that.
So, if you are weird like me (and big ups, if you are), give these little baby sort of beauties a try. They really are delicious. And pretty healthy. And gluten free. I’ve sold you on them as much as I can. The ball is in your court.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Prepare a baking sheet with foil and spray it with non-stick cooking spray. Mix the first 7 ingredients together (ground turkey to sofrito). Roll the meat mixture into uniform sized balls and place onto the baking sheet. Mix the remaining ingredients together and spoon over the meatballs. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 - 25 minutes.
I get headaches. Quite often. And migraines. And they can be debilitating. I get nauseous. I can’t eat. I can’t do much of anything. Any noise is too loud; I can literally feel each noise throbbing in my head, neck, and shoulders. Being in pitch black is still too bright. I am working with a Neurologist to get them under control, but it’s a long process, of trial and error. For people who don’t get them, it’s really hard to understand their magnitude, much like anxiety and depression, of which I also suffer.
[I’m a bag of fun 😀 ]
So, when I have a good day, I am SO very thankful. For the little things, things that I shy away from, on a bad day – the beautiful warming sunshine, the gentle breeze, the [loud] sounds of my boys. I relish in my energy, baking cookies, painting my boys’ bathroom, cleaning the house, running errands. I am grateful. Today, I am grateful. I know that ALL of this is in God’s plan, even if I don’t understand why. I don’t believe that God gives us only what we can handle; God gives us what He gives us, and then we lean on Him.
Day by day. Sometimes, minute by minute.
For tomorrow’s lunch, I packed a cream cheese and raspberry jam heart-shaped sandwich, pita chips, dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, blueberries, and a homemade gluten free chocolate brownie cookie. Love themed. Because I am thankful.
My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, hands down. Any chance I get, I’ll find a way to Thanksgiving-ize something. I came up with this recipe a few years ago and it’s been a favorite. I’ve since made it gluten free and simplified it for my little (big) sous chef.
These turkey meatballs are the very essence of Thanksgiving – tender sagey turkey, studded with tart cranberries. I served them (obvi) over mashed sweet potatoes and with sweet corn.
Pilgrim Meatballs with Cranberries
1 lb ground turkey
1 egg, beaten
2/3 C corn flake crumbs
1/3 C chicken stock
Handful of dried cranberries (I used Trader Joe’s orange flavored ones and I soaked them in cooking white wine/sherry)
1/2 t sage
S&P to taste
Preheat the oven to 400F. Prepare a baking sheet with tin foil and Pam. Mix all the ingredients, except for ground turkey. Once fully combined, add the ground turkey. Form into balls and place on the baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes.
You guys. Have you ever made a recipe that is so good that you are at a loss for words? I just did that. Earlier in the week, I found a recipe for an Apple, Honey, and Olive Oil Cake that looked out of this world. It wasn’t gluten free, so I thought I’d be nice and make it such, so my husband could eat it, too. I definitely deserve some kind of pat on the back or a new pair of shoes or something for that act of kindness. Anyways.
This cake was not only easy (you probably have ALL of the ingredients!!), but it wasn’t overly sweet OR unhealthy.
It’s basically a health cake. You’re welcome.
I’m going to be perfectly honest with you right now. I cut a huge slice of this and put it on my dinner plate. I ate the first slice right along with my baked ham with cloves, green beans with almonds, and corn.
I DO have one regret – not buying (and eating) vanilla ice cream with this. It would be killer. So, that is my sage and wise advice to you today. Buy vanilla ice cream to go with this.
This cake was one of the best things that happened to me all day.
Gluten Free Apple, Honey, and Olive Oil Cake
Recipe adapted from: Pickledplum.com
5 small red apples (or 4 larger ones), peeled, cored, and sliced thinly
5 T gluten free flour mix (with xanthan gum in it) or another GF flour with 1/8 t xanthan gum added)
5 T brown sugar
5 T extra virgin olive oil
1 t baking powder
4 large eggs
⅔ C honey
Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease an 8-inch cake pan, then place the apple slices inside. Put flour, sugar, baking powder, olive oil, eggs, and honey in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour the batter over the apples and sprinkle cinnamon over top. Bake for 20 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and drizzle more honey on top. Bake for an additional 25 minutes.
Eat hot or cold. It was ridonk hot. It would be even more ridonk hot with that vanilla ice cream. I’m planning on eating it cold later tonight and/or for breaky. I’m sure it’ll be ridonk, once again.
Well, oopsie. It’s almost been a month since I blogged. What can I say? Summer really took over. Now, it’s coming to a close. My boys go back to school next week ( 🙁 ). I’ve so enjoyed my extra time with them, where the days started and ended later, we ate our weight in ice cream, and we did what we wanted. Times are a-changin’! It’s back to the grind. It’s going to be a rude awakening next week, when I’ll be forced to wake them up. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. That “my baby is now going to Kindergarten” bridge will also have to be dealt with. I’m not emotionally prepared to deal with that at this time.
Moving on to what makes me comfortable – food. 😀
I found a recipe for Quinoa Granola Bars and tweaked them a little.
These were so good! The oats made them chewy and the quinoa made them crunchy. The dried fruit made them subtly sweet and the chocolate coating just made them. Chocolate coating makes almost everything. Ask anybody.
You can leave the chocolate coating off, if needed. I can barely come up with a situation where a chocolate coating would not be needed. But, know that option exists.
Quinoa Granola Bars with Dried Fruit & Chocolate
Recipe adapted from: Superhealthykids.com
1 C uncooked quinoa
1 C oats
1/2 C coconut
1 1/2 C combination of nuts and dried fruit (I used a 1/2 each of cranberries, golden raisins, and sliced almonds)
1/4 t salt
1/2 C peanut butter
3/4 C honey
1 T oil (I used coconut)
3 T brown sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 C chocolate chips
1 t oil (I used coconut)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9X13 inch baking dish. Spread the oats and quinoa on a cookie sheet and toast in preheated oven for 8 minutes. Pour the quinoa and oats mixture into a large bowl and add coconut, nuts, and dried fruit. Mix together. In a medium saucepan, combine salt, peanut butter, honey, oil, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and immediately remove from heat. Add the vanilla extract and mix. Pour over oats mixture and combine until dry ingredients are evenly coated. Pour into baking dish. Press mixture down into pan. Bake for about 15 – 18 minutes.
To make the chocolate, mix the chocolate chips and oil together in a bowl. Microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring until melted. Spread over the top of the bars and let them cool/dry.
Cut and serve.
These are a teeny bit crumbly, but are delicious for snacks (after school, maybe? mid-morning? you decide). You could also individually wrap the slices and freeze and pop into a lunchbox.
It might seem that I am on a chocolate cookie kick. And that might actually be true. But, I really think the universe is lending itself to chocolate cookie situations. It’s a circumstance beyond my control. Who I am to mess with that?
This time around, I made Gluten Free Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies. Mexican Hot Chocolate is simply spicy hot chocolate. The spices lend a lovely warmth to the creamy, rich chocolate. And they do the same in the cookie form.
These cookies are crunchy and chewy, rich with chocolatey flavor. They have a little kick from cayenne and a lot of warmth from cinnamon.
And, let me just tell you how delicious they are with ice cream sandwiched between two of them. I can barely think straight and think of that at same time!
I just know you’re going to love these! They were perfect accompaniment to Taco Night.
Gluten Free Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies
2 1/2 C powdered sugar
1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
2 t Saigon cinnamon (it’s a bit stronger in flavor than “regular” Ceylon cinnamon)
dash cayenne pepper
1/4 t Kosher salt
1 T cornstarch
3 egg whites (or 9 T All Whites)
1 t vanilla extract
1 C bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350F. Add parchment paper or a Silpat (I used both and the parchment paper worked better with this recipe) to a baking sheet.
Sift together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, and cornstarch. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until frothy, about one minute. Add vanilla and mix together. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix together. Mix in the chocolate chips. Drop onto your prepared pan, about one inch apart. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes (mine took 16). Let them cool completely before removing from the pan.
Enjoy with ice cream! Or systematically eat them one by one, while standing over the sink, and hoping that no one sees you. Either way.
You know how these days are called the “lazy days of summer”? You know that term? Welp. That’s me. Lazy in the bloggy sense. I’ve been cooking and baking and taking pictures and eating, but that’s it. But, I’m here now. When it counts. With a delicious recipe for you. It’s super fresh and summery and I didn’t even wait until the season has passed to share it with you. That should count for something. Brownie points, maybe? Yes, perhaps I deserve a brownie. Get on that.
I made (for you, for me, for everyone) a Tropical Pavlova. A Pavlova is a dessert that simply consists of meringue, whipped cream, and fruit. How could all that goodness be bad? It was created (possibly by the Australians, possibly by the New Zealanders) for the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. I mean. This woman, who was already super, ridiculously talented in the world of ballet, had a freaking dessert named after her. #goals
Anywho, this dessert just works. The meringue shells are crunchy and light in flavor, chewy on the inside (in a perfectly stick to your teeth kind of way), the whipped cream is fluffy, and the fruit is so refreshing. It works in the same kind of textural way that Banoffee Pie works. This is also a gluten free dessert. Bonus.
This is a picture-perfect dessert for this ridonk hot summer. I will say that it is not delicious as a leftover (source: I’m eating it now). The delicate meringue shell has broken down into a sloppy mess. The whipped cream and fruit, however, has remained amazeballs (is that said anymore, I need to know).
Make it. Chances are, you’ve got almost all the ingredients in your kitchen now, and if needed, you can switch out the fruit.
Recipe adapted from: America’s Test Kitchen
4 large egg whites, room temperature
3/4 t vanilla extract
1/4 t cream of tartar
1 scant C sugar
2 mangoes (peeled, pitted, cubed)
2 kiwi (peeled, sliced, quartered)
1 papaya (peeled, seeded, cubed)
Simply Squeeze Coco Real Cream of Coconut (or make your own)
3/4 C shredded coconut
2 C heavy whipping cream
2 T sugar
1 t vanilla extract
Adjust your oven rack to the middle and preheat your oven to 200F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Determine what size you want your shells to be and trace two circles in that shape. I did one a little bit bigger than the other. Using a stand mixer and whisk attachment (handheld is also fine), whip egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar for one minute on medium speed. Switch to medium high speed and whip for another minute. Gradually add the sugar and whip until the peaks are stiff and glossy (one or two more minutes). Separate the meringue between the two circles on the baking sheet. Spread evenly. Bake for about one and a half hours, and then turn off the oven and let the meringues sit for about two hours.
Meanwhile, chop up the fruit and set aside.
When meringues are out of the oven, prepare the whipping cream. Pour cream, sugar, and vanilla into a stand mixer (with whisk attachment), and mix for about one minute on medium speed. Increase to high and whip for about three minutes. You can store the whipped cream for up to a week in the refrigerator. Re-whip, if necessary.
To assemble, place one meringue shell (the larger, if that’s the route you took) on a serving plate. Spread almost half of the whipped cream on top, followed by almost half of the chopped fruit. Drizzle the coconut cream and sprinkle some of the shredded coconut. Put the second meringue shell on top of that, and repeat. This was easy to cut into slices.
I’ve got another dinner idea for you to try this week – Taco Pie!
My family loves tacos. We eat them…um, too much (for my taste). Mexican food easily offers great gluten free options. I think that’s why it’s so often. I like to mix it up, however, because my taste buds will not allow the same meals all the time. I need options.
This taco pie was both filling and delicious, and very easy to make. I served it with sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, and lettuce, and plain Greek yogurt, and charred corn (and iced hibiscus tea!) on the side.
Gluten Free Taco Pie
Recipe adapted from: Betty Crocker
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 packet gluten free Taco seasoning
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 C milk (I used unsweetened coconut milk)
1/2 C Bisquick Gluten Free mix
3/4 C cheese (I used dairy free cheese)
Toppings (I used tomatoes, lettuce, cukes, red onion, and plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream)
Heat oven to 400F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat, until beef is browned. Drain. Stir in seasoning mix. Spoon into pie plate. Top with drained and rinsed black beans.
In small bowl, stir eggs, milk and Bisquick Gluten Free mix until blended. Pour over beans.
Bake for about 25 minutes. Top with cheese and tomato. Bake 2 to 3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Serve with additional toppings.