Friday, October 30, 2015

Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

Tomorrow is Halloween.  This is the first time in a long time I am not dressing up. : (  I love theme parties, and in the past have thrown quite a few for Halloween.  Unfortunately, a lot of friends were going to be out of town or busy this weekend so we opted not to throw a party this year.  It's all year we will throw an awesome one and God willing we will have our baby to dress up in a fun costume as well!

I can't believe the Holiday season is upon us already!  So much fun is up ahead in the next few months!  Best of all Christmas when I can see most of my siblings again for a few days...darn this distance between us all!

In other news - my parent's dog, Flopsy, just became a first time Mamma!  She had 6 little pups, but only 3 of them made it.  The 3 that survived are strong little guys with jet black coats and are busy wearing out Flopsy with their needy little whimpers. : )  Right now they look like little rats, but in a few weeks they are going to be adorable miniature schnauzer puppies...then they will be wearing my parents out as well!

Pregnancy update!  I am 19 weeks along, and my belly is finally popping out!  It is such a weird feeling to have this extra weight in my mid section area - I know I'm not that big, but I already feel like a house that will knock everything down in my way. ; )  It is getting more difficult to move quickly, and my workouts have slowed down in pace since I get winded so much faster now.  Thankfully my appetite is back and I am eating food again!  Hopefully this will translate into more recipe posts as well.  : )

I realized that I didn't have a go to chocolate chip oat cookie recipe...and that just wasn't going to work for me.  I played around with a few recipes and came up with this gem!  The trick to these cookies is 1) using two kinds of oats - this jumps up the texture appeal, and 2) you must not over bake the cookies...if you do, they will be dry : (

Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup old fashion oats
1/2 cup quick cooking oats or ground whole oats
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In small bowl mix: oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and chocolate chips.  Set aside.

In large mixing bowl beat butter and sugars until creamy - 4-5 minutes, scraping the bowl a few times.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat to combine until smooth.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix just until combined.  Scrape with spatula and mix again for a few seconds.

Scoop out 2 TBS size balls onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake 10-11 not over bake!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Pregnancy is weird.  I always heard that you crave certain strange foods while you are pregnant, like pickles and ice cream...yuck.  I keep waiting for the food cravings to kick in, but it seems like I am still in the "food aversion" stage of this.  Sadly this means my cooking has been cut way back, as in I don't really cook dinner that much anymore.  My poor husband has been eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches most nights for dinner.

This weekend I was napping and started thinking about Jambalaya for some strange reason.  I woke up from my nap and went straight to the store for the ingredients before I decided to have an aversion to this idea...haha...I like to move on my ideas very quickly!  This recipe was actually pretty easy and turned out delicious!  It makes enough for 6-8 people for dinner.  You could also make it meatless and omit the chicken and sausage, use vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth, and add shrimp or black beans at the end.


  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. sausage, sliced into rounds
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 4-5 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped 
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 (14 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked white jasmine or brown rice*
  • 1 Tbsp. Cajun or Creole seasoning 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

  • (optional) 2 cup sliced okra
In large soup/stock pot heat the olive oil.  Add the sausage and brown 1-2 minutes.  Then add the chicken and cook 2-3 minutes until no longer pink.  Remove sausage and chicken from pan, leaving the fat in the pan.  

Add the chopped onions, peppers, celery and garlic to the pan.  Saute 5-7 minutes over medium high heat.  Add the meat back into the pan.  Add the chicken stock, canned tomatoes, rice and seasonings.  Stir to combine.  Cover with lid and cook over medium/low heat 30-40 minutes until rice is tender.  Stir every 5-8 minutes to ensure rice isn't sticking to the bottom and burning.  If your rice is not cooked through and the liquid is evaporated add some more water until rice is cooked.

Once rice is cooked add the okra, stir, and cook 5-10 minutes until okra is tender.  

* Brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice, and sometimes requires more liquid too...just keep an eye on it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Gluten Free Apple Crisp

Oh Fall!  So looking forward to you for so many reasons:

1)  Moving into my second trimester!  Everyone says the 2nd trimester is much better than the first...looking forward to not feeling yucky all the time!  Did I mention I was having a baby! : )  The little munchkin is the size of a lemon right now and we are grateful for his strong heartbeat (we do not know the gender, but will refer to the baby as "he" until it is born)

2)  THE WEATHER!  Fall weather makes me so happy!  It makes me want to be outside all the time!  I just want to go outside and take really long deep breathes of the delicious Fall air.   By far the best season of the year!  All my workouts must be outside now!

3)  Our 1 year marriage anniversary in November!  Dang, that was a fast year!  A good year, and somehow I love him more and more every darn day.  He is basically the best husband ever : )

4)  Our family Portugal Trip!  My parents and 2 of my siblings and I are travelling to Portugal for a tour led by my Aunt.  We are looking forward to it!  I am really looking forward to the food!

5)  THE BAKING!  Oh so many things to bake in the Fall.  Next on my list is apple fritters...doesn't that sound divine?

My pregnancy has given me some really lovely heartburn and indigestion...yuck.  Gluten doesn't help it, so I am trying to stay away from it for a while.  I know I should also stay away from sugar, but at this point most of my food groups are off limits so I am just eating what I can.

Gluten Free Apple Crisp Recipe

5 apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin (I used Pink Lady and Honey Crisp)
1 TBS apple juice (or lemon)
1/2 tsp corn starch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 TBS honey
pinch of cloves

Crisp Topping:
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup old fashioned oats
1 stick butter diced

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease an 8x8 cake pan.  Toss the filling ingredients together and set aside.  Place all of the crisp ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix until combined and crumbly.  Sprinkle a small layer of the crisp on the bottom of the pan.  Pour in filling and spread evenly.  Top with the remaining crisp topping.  Bake 30-40 minutes until crisp.  Serve warm with fresh whipped cream, mascarpone cheese, or ice cream.  This made really delicious leftovers too...if there are any!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancakes that happen to be gluten free!

I don't know about you, but my weekend never feels complete unless I have partaken in the eating of pancakes or waffles at least once.  It is just so nice to have a break from my regular oatmeal or smoothie that I eat during the week.  Andrew always makes fun of me though because as soon as I finish eating said pancakes or waffles I immediately start complaining about how my body is in carb overload and how I need to just go back to bed.  Haha such a vicious cycle : ), but totally worth it.

I have tried a few gluten free pancake recipes and most of them taste like yuck and the texture is just I was so happy to find a recipe that actually tasted delicious!  I have also been in the Fall mood with the very slight drop in temperature so decided these pancakes must have apples!

"Everything can have drama if it's done right. 
Even a pancake." - Julia Child

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancakes
adapted from

Mix together the following ingredients:

1 apple diced small (I peeled mine, but feel free to leave the peel on if you want)
1 cup oat flour (grind the oats in a food processor or blender until fine)
1/3 cup quick cook oats or regular oats
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon

In separate small bowl mix together these ingredients then add to the above:

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk or milk alternative (almond, rice, cashew, etc...)
2 TBS honey

After wet and dry ingredients are mixed add and mix until combined:

2 TBS coconut oil melted

Cook on hot griddle coated with butter or coconut oil.  Enjoy with hot maple syrup and a chunk of butter.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Refined sugar free, nut free - Chewy Raisin Snack Cookies

I am always on the search for a healthy snack option that isn't a store bought granola bar.  I have made a few granola bars recently, but haven't had a lot of success making ones without refined sugar in them.  I came across this recipe on the "Deliciously Ella" blog that my good friend told me about.

There were a few things that I really liked about this recipe:

1)  No refined sugar
2)  No gluten
3)  No dairy
4)  No nuts, which mean pretty low in fat content then
5)  Shredded apples in a cookie?  Say what?

I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised.  The texture is very different then normal cookies, but the flavor makes up for it.  These are a healthy nut free snack that I will definitely be making again!

Chewy Raisin Snack Cookies
Adapted and converted from Deliciously Ella blog

2 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
4 ripe bananas
3 TBS Honey
1 1/2 cups raisins
3 medium apples (I used pink ladies)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grate the apples (no need to peel them) and place them in a small bowl.  Drain the excess liquid from the grated apples using a sieve. (fyi, drain the liquid into a bowl so you can drink some really delicious freshly squeezed apple juice - this step of straining is super important or the cookies will be too wet and fall apart) Then in another bowl mash the bananas. Then mix the grated apples and bananas with all the remaining ingredients in a bowl.  Line a baking tray with parchment paper.  Scoop a heaped tablespoon of the mix and pat it lightly into flat cookies shape on the tray, do this until all the mixture has been used.  Batter will be slightly loose so you may have to squish the batter together.  If you don't want to bake them all at once, you can scoop some onto a parchment lined pan and stick them into the freezer.  Once frozen you can throw them in a freezer bag until ready to bake. Should yield 30 cookies.

Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes until they turn golden brown, at this point take them out the oven and let them cool slightly.  If the raisins look like they are burning then they are most definitely done!  You can store them in an airtight container on the counter or in the refrigerator. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thai Chicken with Peanut Dressing

Today's Gospel reading is one of my favorites!  Whenever I am stressed and overwhelmed by the world and all the horrible news it is such a good reminder to just hand it all over to God and He will give you rest and peace.  

Can you imagine if there was a building where everyone could just go and throw away all of their worries, their pains, their hurts and their burdens?  Then leave 100% refreshed and rejuvenated!  First of all, logistically it would have to be a ridiculously huge building.  Second of all, the line would be out the door always!  

Imagine if you had the golden ticket and didn't have to wait in the lines or make your way through the crowds to get to this place of refreshment and rest.  No matter the time or day - you had 100% access to this place where you could just lay all your burdens down?

News flash!  You have the golden ticket!  I have the golden ticket!  We all have the golden ticket!  We all have 100% no restriction access to give our burdens to Jesus whenever we want!  The question is, are you using your golden ticket?

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

And then there was chicken, and it was good. : )

When I lived in California I discovered Thai food!  I grew up eating Chinese food and didn't even realize I had options when it came to Asian cuisine...I know, how narrow minded of me. : )  Thai food is so much fresher and healthier tasting then traditional Chinese dishes.  Thai food uses a lot of sauteing instead of deep frying like the Chinese dishes I used to eat.  Thai food also tends to be a bit more spicy instead of sweet, and just all around cleaner flavors and more veggies!.  I am a fan.  I wanted to make some chicken lettuce wraps and was searching for an easy marinade that didn't require a huge laundry list of Asian ingredients that I didn't have.  I found it!  I was very please with how simple this was and how delicious it tasted.  I don't know if this is "technically" "Thai" chicken, but I am going to go ahead and call it that. : )

Thai Chicken Marinade

1/4 cup soy sauce
4 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbs. honey
3 slices fresh ginger
2 cloves chopped garlic
4 pounded out chicken breasts or 6 chicken thighs*

Place all ingredients into a Ziploc bag*, seal, and shake/massage the marinade into the chicken.  Place in refrigerator and marinade for at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.  Remove from refrigerator and grill, bake, or pan saute.  Serve with rice, rice noodles, lettuce wraps, tortilla wraps, etc and peanut sauce!

*If you don't want to use a plastic Ziploc you can also mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl then pour over the chicken in a small pan and stir every couple of hours.

* I used boneless skinless thighs, but I am sure the marinade would work with bone in/skin on as well - personal preference!

Peanut Dressing
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup natural creamy peanut butter*
1 TBS. crunchy peanut butter
3 TBS Soy Sauce
2 TBS Rice Wine Vinegar
2 TBS Olive Oil
1 TBS Sesame Oil
2 tsp. chopped garlic
1 TBS minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. crushed red pepper

Blend all ingredients in food processor or blender until combined and yummy!
* I used the peanut butter that is freshly ground at the grocery store, no added ingredients - just straight up ground peanuts - it is so good.  If you only have creamy or crunchy it doesn't matter - just use what you have!

You can use this sauce as a dip, a salad dressing, a wrap sauce/drizzle, or just eat it with a spoon - so scrumptious!  It is pretty thick, so if you like a thinner sauce add a little bit of water or coconut milk.

Here it is chopped up on romaine lettuce, purple cabbage, green onions, chopped carrots and cucumbers, peanuts, and the peanut dressing.   So delicious!

Give your burdens to God, feel refreshed and renewed!
Make this chicken and peanut sauce and nourish the people you love!

Eat your heart out,


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Almond Milk Crepes with Coconut Milk and Honey Caramel dairy or refined sugar!

Ever since we returned from Paris I have been dreaming of making crepes.  Then I remembered I had a crepe maker from my college days...some friends gave it to me and I totally forgot I had it until now!  

While we were in Paris we had a caramel and sea salt crepe so I wanted to attempt to make it without milk and without sugar.  Figured there were recipes for such things online...and I figured right!  The caramel was the real surprise here, so sweet and delicious!  Maybe even a little too sweet.  Next time I make these I think I will saute some fresh apples to give it a little more earthiness and texture, and maybe cut down on the sweetness of the caramel a little.  

Almond Milk Crepes
originally found here
1 cup almond milk
3 eggs
1¼ cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
¼ cup water
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth
Transfer mixture into bowl and let rest on counter for one hour. (I skipped this step and they turned out fine)
Heat skillet on medium-high heat. Spray with oil (I used Coconut Oil Spray). With a ladle, swirl 2-3 tablespoons of batter onto skillet while tilting the pan in a circular motion, allowing batter to cover the surface evenly. Cook for 20-30 seconds on first side, flip crepe over and continue to cook for 10-20 seconds more until crepe is light golden. Turn crepe out onto a clean surface. Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Coconut Milk and Honey Caramel Sauce
Originally found here, this is the adapted version.

1 can full fat coconut milk (about 1 1/2 cups) 
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoons ghee, I used butter (but you can probably use coconut oil too)
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan, combine all ingredients and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Mix until combined and butter is melted.

Continue to lightly boil undisturbed, anywhere from 20-30 minutes (sometimes more depending on how much you are making) or until it reaches a nice golden amber color and about 245-250 degrees on a candy thermometer*.

Toward the end of cooking, stir often to keep any of caramel from burning on the bottom of the pan, but also to incorporate the small amount that is burning into the caramel. This gives it that lovely burnt sugar flavor and color that we associate with caramel.

Cooking times vary significantly depending on the width and thickness of your pot, stove, heat and batch size. Just roll with the nature of candy making. Color and smell is the key. 

Remove from heat and allow to cool 10-15 minutes.  Makes about 1 cup.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

White Chocolate Fudge Brownies and Forgiveness

The first reading today was the story of Joseph and his brothers.  For those of you who don't know the story, here is the super short version:

Joseph had a bunch of brothers, like 11.  He was highly favored by their father and he gave Joseph a pretty coat with lots of colors.  The other brothers were jealous and mad about this, and about other things too...they had some deep seeded issues they didn't want to talk about. : )  One day Joseph went to fetch his brothers from a field they were working in, as he got closer the angry brothers decided they wanted to kill him.  After some rough grunts and manly debates they decided to throw him into a deep pit that just so happened to be convenient for them! : )  After some more grunts, arm wrestling, and paper/rock/scissors battles they decided to sell him to some passerby people instead of killing him.  Then they took the infamous coat of many colors and splatted it with animal blood, took it to their father and told him his golden son was dead.  (sounds like a strange episode of CSI to me)  Joseph was really blessed at this point and became buddies with the Pharaoh, I mean he spent some time in the clink for a few years on and off, but at the end of the day he ended up sitting pretty with some authority and title that was important.  Come to find out there was a famine and his evil brothers came to ask for grain...turns out they had to meet with Joseph to get the grains...who they didn't recognize!  Ha, what are the odds?  After a very dramatic, head turning, and shocking revelation of the truth Joseph straight up forgave his brothers for their crime against him.  Just like that!

Can you imagine forgiving your brothers, friends, or strangers for wanting to kill you and then selling you off into slavery?  Wow?  That kind of betrayal is intense.  Or take for instance the shootings in Charleston, SC...many of the families of the victims have spoken of forgiving Roof for his horrible crimes against their loved ones.  Wow, that is powerful stuff!  I know I personally have a hard time with forgiving people...especially my family members and friends.  It is so difficult to mentally make that step and letting go.  Sometimes letting go of something seems like it is a sign of weakness, like you are giving up power over that person, but in reality it is so freeing and makes you stronger!  How crazy is that?  I know when I am hurt by someone, or I am arguing or fighting with them I don't want to give them the satisfaction of "winning" the battle against ironic it is that when you forgive someone you are the one who wins!  Not that it is about winning, but to me everything has some degree of competition to it.  Haha : )

I recently received an email from the "Prepare and Enrich" marriage prep program.  We used them while we were engaged and they send us emails every once in a while for tips to a healthy marriage.  This was a list they included on practical advice for how to give and receive forgiveness

Steps for Seeking Forgiveness
  1. Admit what you did was wrong or hurtful.
  2. Try to empathize with the pain you have caused.
  3. Take responsibility for your actions.
  4. Assure the person that you will not do it again.
  5. Apologize genuinely and ask for forgiveness.
  6. Forgive yourself. 
Steps for Granting Forgiveness
  1. Acknowledge and give yourself permission to feel pain, anger, or disrespect.
  2. Set clear and specific limits and expectations for the future.
  3. Give up your right to “get even,” but insist on being treated better in the future.
  4. Let go of blame, resentment, and negativity toward the person.
  5. Communicate your act of forgiveness.
  6. Work toward reconciliation (when/if safe).

I don't know about you, but I think I need to print this list out and tape it to my forehead and all the mirrors in my house. : )

I also think another step should be added to the list for "steps to seek forgiveness".  

Step 7.  Make the offended party brownies. : )

My husband will be eating so many brownies. : )

I needed a quick dessert for a Young Adult ministry meeting we were having at my house last night and these guys ended up being the perfect thing!  The key to a chewy brownie is to not over bake them!  When in doubt take them out! : )  These are also great because they don't call for baking chocolate, just cocoa powder, but boy oh boy are they fudge-y good!

White Chocolate Fudge Brownies

10 TBS unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup + 2 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup white chocolate chips*

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and line an 8" or 9" square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Melt the butter, sugar, cocoa powder, salt together over medium heat in a saucepan.  Stir until butter is melted.  Batter will be gritty, fear not.  Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes.

Stir in the vanilla.  Add the eggs one at a time stirring quickly so the eggs don't scramble.  Add the flour.  Do not over mix!  Gently fold in the white chocolate chips - if the batter is too hot at this point the chips will just melt and the brownies won't be as yummy...which is why it is important to let it cool a bit before adding the eggs.  Pour into pan and smooth out evenly.

Bake 20-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out relatively clean.  Keep an eye on them after 20 minutes checking every 2 minutes until perfectly cooked.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting.  

* you can also use peanut butter chips or chocolate chips here if that is what you have on hand

 Listen to this song.  Make these brownies.  Go ask someone for forgiveness.

Eat your heart out,


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Chocolate Financier Cakes and Tea Parties

Growing up I adored a good tea party!  I used to make my little sisters dress up in frilly dresses and then invite neighborhood friends over and have fancy tea parties.  Ha...guess a lot of things don't change over the years : ) This love of tea parties evolved into me collecting mini tea sets until I was  teenager...when all was said and done I had over 30 mini tea sets!  I saved a few of my favorite sets for when I have a daughter (if I am so blessed)...maybe she will throw tea parties and invite her super cool mommy : ) 

My other encounter with tea parties was when I was a Senior in High School and living with 2 friends from school and 2 sweet old ladies who were also sisters.  Every afternoon at exactly 4pm we would gather around the round kitchen table and have tea and a snack.  I had decided I actually didn't like "real" tea at this point in my life - they would offer it to me every day and I would always say, "no thank you, I don't like drinking dirty water!"  Guess I preferred the make believe tea I would drink when I was younger instead.  : ) The 5 of us would chat about our days and we would listen to the old sisters tell stories from their childhoods.  I have fond memories of that year, and whenever I now drink "real" tea I think of the lovely Philbin and Hennessy sisters.

When we were in France we visited with my husband's distant relatives.  As soon as we arrived at their home we sat down to tea on their back porch overlooking their beautiful garden.  It was a damp and chilly day so the hot tea was so welcomed!  They served us a lovely loaf of sweet bread, I believe it was Brioche, with some amazing homemade fruit jam.  In that moment I am pretty sure I truly experienced what it was like to be French and live in France....certifiably the most "French" moment of our trip. : )
While we were in Paris I tried a few pastries that I had never heard of.  One of those was the Chocolate Financier cakes.  This cake was so moist, delicious, and simple that I had to try and replicate it when I got home.  I just threw a bridal shower tea for my friend and decided there was no better occasion to make these cakes then now!  They ended up being moist little brownie like bites with the texture of the ground almonds being an amazing combination of deliciousness!  
Tea Party Menu:  Fresh Crudites and hummus, ham/spinach/and piave cheese quiches, curried chicken sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches, oat scones with assorted jams, fresh fruit salad, chocolate financier cakes, shortbread cookies, roasted peach lemonade, and assorted teas.
This may get confusing...hang in there : )

 I used my scale to make these and realized the non weighed measurements seemed very off to me...I am posting the original recipe and then my notes on the side of each ingredient.  For best results use a scale for this recipe.
Chocolate Financiers
adapted slightly from Chef Eddy Van Damme Blog

1 ½ Cups (5 oz) Sliced almonds or almond meal 
(if you use sliced almonds, make sure you end up with 1 1/2 cups of ground almonds)

1 Cup (8 oz)  Extra fine granulated sugar 

½ Cup minus 1 TBSP (2 oz) All purpose flour 
7 large (7 oz) Egg whites 

(I ended up only using 5 large eggs to get 7oz of egg whites)

½ teaspoon Salt (table not kosher)
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Almond extract
1 ½ sticks (6 oz) Unsalted butter

(6 oz ended up being 2 sticks minus 1 TBS of butter for me- most sticks of butter from the grocery store say they are 4 oz each, but really they are not)

4 oz Bittersweet chocolate or chocolate chips, 60% cacao 

Grease your mini muffin pans and set aside. (you can also make these in any form you like...regular muffin pans, some loaf pans, etc...just keep in mind the bake time will have to be adjusted accordingly)

If you are using sliced almonds instead of almond meal - Place the sliced almonds with the sugar and flour in a food processor and process until the almonds are finer than cornmeal and then transfer to a bowl. Mix the almond meal (or ground up almonds), flour, and sugar together in a large bowl until combined.  

Add the egg whites, salt, vanilla and almond extract and mix together using a rubber spatula.

Cut the chocolate into small pieces, or just leave as if if you are using chocolate chips, and combine with the butter. Melt over barely simmering water (double boiler), the bowl not touching the water. Remove from heat when ¾ of the chocolate is melted.  Stir until all the chocolate is melted and add to the above, stir until combined.
Fill the mini muffin tins ¾ full and bake in a 350⁰F (180⁰C) oven until the center of the financier cakes bounce back when lightly pressed with a finger. About 12-15 minutes for the mini muffin pans. For other sizes bake until the center of the cakes bounce back when pressed.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes and remove from pan.  

I just ate the last one yesterday, so I know for a fact 4 days later they still taste amazing!

This recipe may be confusing, but it is so worth it in the end!  I see myself making them again soon!

Let's all work to bring back the lovely tradition of afternoon tea.  
Then invite a friend over for tea and these financier cakes.

Eat your heart out,


Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 
- Colossians 3:12-14 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Being Content and Beef Tacos!

Let's be real folks.  Its time for my quarterly free therapy session.  Let's do this.

Do you ever feel like you are not good enough?  

Not kind enough, not happy enough, not fit enough, not positive enough?  

Ug...that's been me recently.  I have been stuck in this rut of feeling so inadequate at everything in my life.  My faith, my family, my job, my home, my ministry, my friends...the list is never ending!  

Thing is, I am fully aware of all these feelings in my life, and I am fully aware that I am not doing a good job handling and coming to terms with them.  I find myself ragging on myself for not being more content with my life, for not being positive and optimistic, for not being able to handle it all, for not being the best version of myself.  

CONTENT.  This word is my arch nemesis in life.  I struggle with it so dang much!  I wish I could be easy going and relaxed, and sit down and enjoy the company at my house instead of being made uneasy by all the dishes in the sink and my messy kitchen.  I am 100% a Martha who has always wanted to be a Mary...Mary always seemed so peaceful and content with her life where as Martha was uneasy and a busy bee all the time.  I don't know if I struggle with being content because I am a competitive person competing against myself, or because my insane Type-A slightly OCD personality is off the charts cray cray.

If you could see the browsing history from my computer recently you would laugh...

Google Searches:

"How to be an easy going person"
"How to have an optimistic perspective on life"
"How to be content"
"How to be better at everything in your life"
"How to loose 5 pounds by being a part time vegetarian"
"How to kill time at work when you have no work"
"How to make a green smoothie that doesn't taste like dirt"
"How to throw a tea party for adults"
"How to build authentic community"

Breathe.  Remember to breathe.

Stop trying to juggling all the balls at once while you ride a unicycle and whistle.
"Have courage and be kind"
 Be grateful by counting your blessings. Be content by being grateful.

 I recently heard this quote on the radio and it really resonated with me:

"I always thought people wanted me to be perfect so I could help them. If I reached out for help myself , I had reasoned, I would lose my perceived usefulness. But the truth is, all I have to offer anyone else is a life surrendered to Christ so that His beauty and grace shines through my brokenness. The greatest gift we can give each other is a willingness to share our imperfection and accept each other just the way we are. There is freedom in such a gift." - Shelia Walsh

Praying that I become more accepting of myself and others.  Praying that I find goodness and kindness in all situations and people that surround me.  Praying that I allow "His beauty and grace to shine through my brokenness".

Prayers that you find peace and contentment in your life, and with whatever you are struggling with.

Then...I go and make these tacos that I can find no fault with.  YES!  I got it right!  Gold star for me! 

Growing up we used the "Old El Paso" seasoning mix whenever we had tacos for dinner.  After college I just started throwing in random Mexican spices combos instead, but the flavor was always lacking.  I finally decided to look up an actual recipe for tacos and yum, so glad I did!  I love having people over and entertaining, and tacos is a great small or large group meal - I make the meat and have everyone else bring the accouterments.  Another way to cut down on the cost is to supplement the beef with black the end of the day you essentially have thick chili but a fatter wallet - you decide which one you prefer : )

Taco meat is also a great leftover to have on hand in the refrigerator.  It makes a quick and healthy lunch or dinner when you throw it on top of lettuce.  You can also make a huge batch of this and freeze it for later meals if you want.  

Beef Tacos

1 TBS oil (your choice, I usually use olive or coconut oil)
1 large onion, diced
1 large jalapeno, diced small
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 clove garlic, minced
1 TBS chili powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds ground beef, or you could use turkey or chicken
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (optional)
1/2 of a 14.5oz can diced tomatoes with juice

Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat.  Add onion and jalapeno, season with salt and pepper. Cook 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic, chili powder, cumin and cook 1 minute.  Add meat, breaking it up and stirring it together, cook until no longer pink.  Add tomatoes and beans and simmer until thickened 10-12 minutes.  Add more Salt and Pepper if it needs it.

Serve over lettuce for a salad or fill warm tortillas and top with  you favorite toppings.

Make these tacos for dinner.  
Sit down with your family and enjoy them...the tacos and the family : )  
Ignore the dishes in the sink for 30 more minutes and relax with your loved ones!

Eat your heart out,


Friday, May 29, 2015

Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins

Summer is here.  At least I think it is...can't really tell since we have had so much rain down here in Texas!  Monsoons everywhere!  Good news is my lemon tree is budding!!!!  Next recipe might have lemons in it : )

Warmer weather can only mean one thing!  Chocolate and banana smoothies all the time!!  Yeah Baby!  Super grateful for my awesome Vitamix my sister and Mom bought us for our wedding - love that thing! turns out that smoothies can get old really I decided to skip my daily smoothie and opted for veggies and hummus...then 1 hour later all I was craving was chocolate and bananas!  I am obsessed I tell you, straight up addicted!  I decided to switch it up a bit and made dark chocolate banana muffins way or another I was going to get my chocolate/banana fix :)

These were super simple muffins and they were so delicious and moist!  Winner winner chicken dinner...actually winner winner muffins for dinner! : )  This recipe has sugar in it, but you can probably swap honey/maple syrup for it if you want...I am going to try to do it next time with 1/4 cup honey instead of the 2/3 cup sugar.

Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins
yields 12 muffins
Adapted slightly from here

  • 1 cup mashed ripe or over ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup canola oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1-1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (semi sweet or dark)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees...or in my case with my gas oven 350 degrees
  2. In a large mixing bowl, use the back of a fork to mash the banana until only very small lumps remain. Add the vanilla and the egg and use the fork to whisk the mixture together until completely combined. Add the oil and milk and stir to combine. Add the sugars and stir again.
  3. Using a spatula, stir in the cocoa powder, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix until the cocoa is completely incorporated. Stir in the salt and baking soda, then gently fold in the flour, until just combined.
  4. Divide the batter among 12 paper-lined muffin cups, about 3/4 full. Sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Bake for 15-17 minutes, rotating once, until the muffin tops look set, and a cake-tester inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes, before removing and cooling completely on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room-temperature.

Share these muffins with someone who is cranky...chances are they are just hungry : )

Eat your heart out,