Tag: holiday

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

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.

Enjoy!

Kristin

 

Print Recipe
Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons
Crunchy and chewy, filled with a gooey coconutty texture. These are ridiculously good.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings
macaroons
Ingredients
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Servings
macaroons
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. 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.
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Easter Redemption

A beautiful sunset from my backyard, and a message God has put on my heart.

You may have noticed (or not, and that’s okay) that I have been gone for awhile. Almost a year and a half, now.

Peter Cottontail Cloud

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,

Kristin

www.twloha.com

 

Print Recipe
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.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18+ minutes
Servings
12 muffins, 12 donut holes
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18+ minutes
Servings
12 muffins, 12 donut holes
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. 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". Enjoy!
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Christmas Wreath Cookies

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Okay, Friends! If you don’t have any cookies baked yet, you’re either not going to or you don’t have any quick, easy ideas. I can’t help you with the former, but here is a great recipe for the latter. My boys and I whipped these up today (for Santa and Mrs. Claus).

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They are rich with butter, crumbly in the best kind of way, and packed with vanilla and almond flavors.  I can almost guarantee that you have all the ingredients already (don’t quote me on that).

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Wreath Cookies

1 C butter, softened

1/2 C sugar

2 1/4 C APF

1/4 t salt

1 egg

1/4 t almond extract

1/4 t vanilla bean paste (or extract)

5-7 drops of green food coloring

sprinkles

Preheat oven to 400F.  Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the flour, salt, egg, almond extract, vanilla bean paste (or extract), and food coloring. Roll the dough into little balls and form a hole in the center (I used an icing tip). Put on the sprinkles.  and place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or just before the cookies turn brown. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. 

My boys also made these little masterpieces:

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I let them go nuts with M&Ms, sprinkles, marshmallows, and icing. I think Santa will both enjoy them and go into a cookie coma!

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Memories were made and that’s all that matters. <3

The Merriest of Christmases to you and your families! May you feel God’s love and know the real reason behind this special season.

God bless!

Kristin

Snowman Cupcakes

What a sweet week it’s been! And it’s not over yet. I’ve got more baking to do. So far this week, I’ve made Christmas Crack Candy, Christmas Chocolate Cake, Christmas Tree Brownies, and lastly, for now, Snowman Cupcakes!

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I took the semi-homemade route, again, this time. So, these were pretty easy. Sort of. I’ll get to that. But if you plan to make them, they will be easy.

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Aren’t they darling? I was in charge of dessert for my Bigs’ class’ birthday party for Jesus today. I thought about going the Jesus/religious symbol route when it came to decorating, but I was nervous about the kids having to eat Baby Jesus. It could go all kinds of wrong. I’ve seen some cute Jesus decorations, but knowing me, I’d make a disaster out of it.

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So, I decided on snowmen.

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I like the way they came out. I really enjoyed making these.

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And just like real snowmen, they each have their own little personalities*.

*decorating inconsistencies

These cheerful cupcakes were delicate and had a soft crumb, were rich in chocolate flavor (thanks boxed mix!), and covered in a delicious, fluffy, marshmallow-y frosting. The crushed peppermint added a refreshing, festive flavor. These were a hit!

Snowman Cupcakes

1 box of your favorite cake mix (or one batch of homemade) – I used chocolate

ingredients used to make cupcakes

silver cupcake wrappers (other Christmassy ones would be cute too)

1 batch of 7 Minute Frosting (recipe below)

candy canes, crushed (I crushed up 12, but didn’t need it all)

Wilton Icing Decorations, snowman variety

Follow the directions on your cake mix box and bake cupcakes, as directed. Let them cool completely. You can expedite this process by placing the cupcakes in the freezer or refrigerator.

While those are cooling, make your 7 Minute Frosting (recipe, directions, and a short story below). I iced the cupcakes using a swirled effect, to make them look peppermint-y. If you want to do that, you’ll need to paint a stripe of food coloring (I used Americolor Red gel) on the inside of your icing bag, before filling it with the frosting.

Once the cupcakes were iced with the swirled frosting, I sprinkled them with the crushed candy canes, and placed one of the Wilton Icing Decorations on top.

I ended up making the frosting twice.

7 Minute Frosting – Recipe #1

Source: Paula Deen, Food Network.com

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar or 1 tablespoon white corn syrup (I used white corn syrup)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy). Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
I have made this dozens of times before, and it’s always turned out beautifully, but ran into a problem this time. I used the white corn syrup, while I usually use the cream of tartar. I had both on hand, so I’m not sure why I chose the syrup. Anyways, it didn’t set up and the sugar didn’t fully melt. It was a grainy, soupy mess. And I know that my boiling water wasn’t touching the bottom of the glass bowl on my double boiler. Ohhhh wellllll.
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I tried a different recipe for the second batch. I actually used a recipe I hadn’t used before and it worked out perfectly.
Fluffy White Frosting – Recipe #2
Source: allrecipes.com
1 C white sugar
1/3 C water
1/4 t cream of tartar
2 egg whites
1 t vanilla extract

In a saucepan, stir together the sugar, water and cream of tartar. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbly.

 

In a medium mixing bowl, whip the egg whites and vanilla to soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar mixture while whipping constantly until stiff peaks form, about 7 to 10 minutes.
I’m sure that either one you choose will work out fine. I’d stick with the cream of tartar though. That one always works for me. #nowiknow #lessonlearned #themoreyouknow
Since I only needed a dozen cupcakes, I had a little fun with my leftover batter.
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I baked a mini chocolate bundt cake. Then, I filled the hole with the red swirled marshmallow frosting (the good batch), sprinkled crushed peppermints on top, took a few pictures of it, then ate it, off of my “Cookies for Santa” plate. It was good. I had to test my product before it left my kitchen. Bakers and Chefs, you know this. It’s an important part of the process. I did this for you.
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I happen to know that Santa loves his (or her) cookies, but would not turn down this sweet little bundt cake, if you left it out for him (or her).
Blessings!
Kristin

“Grinch” VPK School Lunch

You know when you try, not your hardest, but close to it, and something doesn’t work out? And you just keep it crappy and serve it? I’m referring to meals here. And in particular, lunches. Kid lunches. Christmas kid lunches.

This Christmas kid lunch:

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Oops. It looks like the Grinch left his mark on that left side of the sandwich. He left his heart there, as well as a green smudge from his Grinchy hand. Yup. That’s what this lunch is. It was supposed to be a holly leaf with three, distinct, little red berries. You can see that, right? RIGHT? While I’d never label [good] bread as a “mistake”, I think in this case, the hearty French loaf, filled with yummy bubbles and indents lent itself to the sad end result. Whatever. I’m already over it. It’s still good bread. Just with a Grinch hand on it. The other side is a candy cane. It’s PB&J. I put some colby jack cheese in there, as well as a mandarin orange, some red and green grapes, another TJ’s cranberry bar, and some red, green, and white chocolate covered sunflower seeds.

I wonder if my Bigs will even notice?

Blessings!

Kristin