Friday, January 31, 2014

Chia Berry Vinaigrette (Vegan, Oil Free, Gluten Free)

I have commitment issues...with salad dressings that is.  I buy a bottle, use it 2-3 times and then I'm board with it and ready to try another.  But, since bottled dressings last for what seems to be forever, I keep it around for when I might want to have a rendezvous with it again.  And before I know it, I have bottles of dressings taking over my fridge.

This is just one reason that I stopped buying bottled salad dressings a while ago. I also discovered how easy it is to make your own (in MOST cases) and how much fresher they taste.  Not to mention, you know exactly what's in it, which is great when you have diet restrictions/allergies like gluten, soy & dairy. 

Sometimes I find recipes online & sometimes I create my own on a whim.  Which is exactly what I did today.   I planned to toss in some soon-to-be-not-fresh berries into my salad but, I was racking my brain for a good dressing recipe to compliment it.  That's when it hit me to use the berries IN the dressing.  It's super quick & easy to make.  It goes great with dark leafy greens & pecans. 

 Chia Berry Vinaigrette (Vegan, Oil Free, Gluten Free)


1.5 C Mixed fresh berries (I used strawberries, blueberries, blackberries & raspberries)

1/3 C Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 C unsweetened coconut milk (or unsweetened vanilla coconut)

Juice from 1/4 of a large lemon

2 generous pinches of salt

1 TbSp Raw Honey

1 Tbsp Chia Seeds


Blend on high for 10 seconds & enjoy for up to 7 days. (Keep refrigerated) 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Blueberry Banana Coffee Cake (Vegan & Gluten Free)

I am really excited about this post you guys!  We spent Christmas morning with my Mother-in-law, who loves to spoil us with tasty homemade confections.  However, since I'm, no longer eating gluten or dairy I knew I would feel completely left out if I didn't make some treats for myself.  Anyways, I knew I really wanted some sort of blueberry coffee cake but, since we were staying with my MIL from out of state, I really didn't want to get into buying a bunch of specialty products that she would never use.  After modifying my favorite Banana Oat Muffin recipe into Dark Chocolate Cherry Cupcake Muffins the light bulb went off.  I created my Banana Oat muffin batter as usual and decided to layer it with a blueberry filling and a streusel topping inside of a bundt pan.  

I nervously paced the kitchen waiting for it to bake.  I REALLY wanted it to turn out perfect because it was Christmas morning and I wouldn't have time to try again and just the thought of how potentially good it might be was making my mouth water.  Well, that and the amazing aroma wafting from the oven.  But, I have been baking long enough to know that just because it smells amazing does not mean the end result will be.  Well, needless to say, it turned out AMAZING!  There wasn't one crumb left at the end of the day (and I only had 2 slices myself).  It's not your average dry coffee cake, it's incredibly moist.  

So that you won't have to flip back and forth between 2 recipes, I am just pasting the Banana Oat recipe here as well.

Blueberry Banana Coffee Cake

Preheat your oven to 400

Blueberry Filling Ingredients:

1 package frozen blueberries (20 oz.) thawed & drained
1 TbSp coconut sugar
2 tsp molasses
2 TbSp corn or tapioca starch

Streusel Topping Ingredients:

1/4 Earth Balance (soy free), cold, NOT softened
1/3 C GF oat flour (process GF oats in processor for 1 min)
1/2 C coconut sugar
1 TbSp molasses
2 TbSp corn or tapioca starch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Banana Oat Batter Ingredients:

2.5 cups Gluten Free Rolled Oats
1 cup full fat coconut milk (mixed well).  The canned version or homemade.

1/2 cup honey
(or maple syrup to keep it truly vegan
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

4 TbSp ground flax seed
1 tsp vanilla
2 ripe bananas


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
  2. mix the blueberry filling and set aside at room temperature
  3. using a hand mixer, mix streusel topping ingredients until it resembles course crumbs (if earth balance is soft it may be more paste-like...that's okay too).
  4. grease a bundt pan (or 8x8 square pan) (I use Spectrum Organic's's soy free!)
  5. With your chopping blade in place, process the oats in a food processor for 30-60 seconds
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients (in no particular order) to the food processor.
  7. Process for about  30-45 seconds to ensure everything is well mixed.
  8. Remove blade, scraping batter off into work bowl.
  9. pour 1/2 of the batter into the pan
  10. spoon the blueberry filling (juices & all) along the center of the batter, keep from edges as much as will ooze out on it's own (it's okay of some touches the need form perfection here)
  11. pour the remaining batter on top and gently spread out
  12. drop the streusel topping all along the top as evenly as possible 
  13. Bake for 30-35 min or until the top is golden & a toothpick comes out clean.

 Just look at that moist deliciousness... 

  *Affiliate Disclosure: Some (or all) of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Dark Chocolate Cherry Cupcake Muffins (Vegan & Gluten Free)

Merry Christmas Eve!  I'm really excited about this new recipe I created today.    Actually, I simply jazzed up an old recipe of mine (Banana Oat Muffins) to make it more festive for Christmas.  These came out just as moist as the original recipe but, the added chocolate makes them rich & decadent & the dried cherries add some sweet zing.  They are too decadent to just be called a muffin but , not quite a cupcake since there is no frosting, so, I decided to call them "cupcake muffins".  And these are really easy to make since everything goes in the food processor.   These would be great for a Valentine's Day treat as well!


2.5 cups Gluten Free Rolled Oats
1/4 C good quality cocoa / cacao powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
4 TbSp ground flax seed
1 cup full fat coconut milk (mixed well).  The canned version or homemade*Native Forest has the BEST amount of "cream" compared to other brands I have tried.
1/2 cup honey (or maple syrup to keep it truly vegan)
1 tsp vanilla
2 ripe bananas 
1 Cup Dried Cherries (halved/chopped)


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
    grease your muffin pan (I use Spectrum Organic's's soy free!)
  2. With your chopping blade in place, process the oats in a food processor for 30-60 seconds 
  3. Add the the dry ingredients (baking powder & soda, cacao/cocoa powder & flaxseed meal) to the food processor and pulse until mixed.
  4. Add the wet ingredients (vanilla, coconut milk, honey & bananas).
  5. Process for about  30-45 seconds to ensure everything is well mixed.
  6. Remove blade, scraping batter off into work bowl.
  7. Add chocolate chips & cherries and stir well.
  8. Place 1 heaping tablespoon or ice cream scoop of batter into each muffin tin.
  9. Bake for 16-18 min.

1 recipe makes 16-18 cupcake muffins  

*Affiliate Disclosure: Some (or all) of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ultra Decadent Paleo Hot Chocolate - Only 4 Ingredients

I'm FINALLY back to blogging some recipes.  After our recent move I have been MIA for quite a while but, I have continued to be busy in the kitchen so, I have a lot of catching up to do.  I really hope I can get at least one new recipe up each week.  But with 2 kiddos and homeschooling, we shall see.  I have no clue how other blogger Mommie's do it.  NO. CLUE!

With all of this cold weather we are not used to, I have been on a mission to create a rich, decadent hot cocoa recipe free of dairy, soy, refined sugars etc.  But, not necessarily free of fat.  I had to leave some fun in there!  ;)  I was making yet another recipe last week when I opened my cabinet and my package of raw cacao butter fell out of the cabinet.  Naturally, I decided to toss some into the pot to see what would happen.  Oh! My! Ganache!!!   This was exactly what my cocoa needed all along!  This recipe is almost like drinking a cup of hot, melted ganache (only not quite as thick).  It has a smooth, rich, coat your ribs kind of texture and it's sweet but, not sickeningly so.  And the cacao powder no longer sinks to the bottom of the mug.  When topped with some homemade coconut whipped cream, it's pure heaven right in your mug.

I HIGHLY recommend using the full fat coconut milk for the best experience.  My favorite brand aside from making my own is Native Forest Organic Classic Coconut Milk.  It is by far the richest version of canned coconut milk I have come across and if you let it settle in the fridge, you will see that it has the highest content of "cream" (coconut fat).  Raw cacao butter is pretty pricy but, it's worth every penny.  Especially in this recipe.

While I have been making more and more "paleo" recipes, I do not follow a paleo diet.  However, I added paleo to my title because I have found this is the easiest way to let people know that the recipe is free of, grains, gluten, dairy, processed/refined sugars etc.  

Anyways, I hope you & your family love this recipe as much as my family & I do.  Enjoy!

Ultra Decadent Paleo Hot Chocolate

Serves 2-4 (depending on the cup size)


--4 Tbsp.of good quality cacao or cocoa powder.  (So far I have used Earth Circle Organics Raw Balinese Cacao Powder but, waiting for Navitas Naturals to come in the mail).

--1/4 C Raw Honey

--2 cans full fat coconut milk room temp, shaken well

--Apx. 4 Tbsp. of raw cacao butter (I used Bright Earth Foods Organic Raw Cacao Butter) (I used 4 good sized chunks out of my bag...just eyeball it).


  1. Mix honey & cacao powder together in the pot, add a small amount of coconut milk until it forms a thick "sauce".
  2. Turn heat on med/high.
  3. While whisking, add the cacao butter and whisk continusly until the cacao butter has melted.
  4. While continuing to whisk, slowly pour the rest of the coconut milk in & whisk until hot but, not boiling.
  5. Remove from the heat, pour into mugs and garnish with a dollop of coconut whipped cream (see below) and a sprinkle of cinnamon if you wish.  (it adds a tasty touch).

There is an abundance of recipes and tutorials for making this.  I'm just posting how I make mine here so you won't have to go look somewhere else.  It's super simple...2 ingredients and done in 1 min.


--1 can of full fat coconut milk chilled upside down in the back of the fridge for at least 1 day...several is better.  (Or 1 C of homemade WITH fat).

--Aprox. 1 Tblsp. of raw honey or a little more to taste.


  1. Open the can and pour off the liquid.
  2. Scoop out the "cream" (coconut fat) into a mixing bowl.
  3. Add the honey.
  4. Using an electric mixer, cream the fat & honey together until smooth & creamy.  OR using a hand whisk, whisk it vigorously.
Use on top of hot cocoa, dairy free ice cream or any dessert that you would normally enjoy topped with cream.  Use it in any recipe that calls for whipped cream.

*Affiliate Disclosure: Some (or all) of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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 sucha 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 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 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.  :)