Saturday, August 16, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie (Gluten Free, Grain Free, Sweetened with Honey and Stevia)

Let me just tell you, the baby in my belly REALLY loves this Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. I had to stop myself from eating it for every snack and dessert. I took a break for a few days and I just ate my last piece with a mug of roasted dandelion root tea which was a really good, earthy pairing for this rich and sweet concoction.

For this pie I used the chocolate crust from my Chocolate Raspberry Crumble Bars and doubled it to fit the pie dish. The peanut butter filling is from my Peanut Butter Layer Bars with the honey amount slightly reduced, stevia added to bump up the sweetness, and gelatin to help thicken the filling and for added nutritional benefits- both of which are totally optional. And then what's a good pie without a real whipped cream topping? I LOVE whipped cream with all of my heart and can digest it so much better while I'm pregnant! If you're looking for a dairy free pie option you can substitute the butter in the chocolate crust and peanut butter filling with coconut oil or another dairy free substitute. And trust me, this pie is dang good without the whipped cream, so you could just leave it off.

For some dairy free and vegan toppings you may want to try:
Coconut Whipped Cream from Against All Grain
The Cream Filling in The Spunky Coconut's Mini Boulder Cream Doughnuts
Cashew Cream recipe sweetened with apple juice from Serious Eats
Vegan Whipped Cream made with cashews, maple syrup and vanilla from The Fussy Fork

And a little note about the garnish topping of chopped peanuts and chocolate chips. The peanuts get a little soggy if the pie is left over and stored in the fridge. So you may want to think about keeping them in an airtight container and topping as you eat each slice.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie 
serves 6-8

Chocolate Crust
2 1/2 C blanched almond flour
1/2 C cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 C melted butter
1/4 C honey
1/4 C palm sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Peanut Butter Filling
1/4 C melted butter (or a dairy free substitute)
1/2 C smooth peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 C honey
10 drops liquid stevia (from Trader Joe's)
1 tsp gelatin (Knox or Great Lakes grass fed gelatin in the Red Canister)
1/4 C hot water

Whipped Cream Topping
1 C whipping cream
1 T honey
10 drops liquid stevia (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1/4 C salted peanuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips for the topping/garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 and butter a pie dish
First make the crust by mixing the melted butter, honey and vanilla
In a separate bowl mix the blanched almond flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda and palm sugar until well combined
Blend with the wet ingredients and press into the press into the pie dish from the center out, then up the edges and finally pressing down on the tops of the edges, poke the crust a few times with a fork
Bake 20 minutes and remove from the oven to cool

Next make the Peanut Butter Filling by combining the butter, peanut butter, vanilla, salt, stevia and honey on the stove top or in a microwave safe container and heat slowly or in small increments until you can stir everything together
If you're using the gelatin, heat the 1/4 C water and pour the dried gelatin on top
Once it has soaked for a few minutes, combine this with the warm peanut butter filling and stir until dissolved and combined
You may need to heat the mixture up again and add a little water as you go to make sure the gelatin has dissolved
Pour the peanut butter filling into the cooled crust and place in the fridge to set
You can cover with plastic wrap in the fridge until you're ready to make the whipped cream topping or you could just wait a little while until the peanut butter filling cools (you definitely don't want whipped cream topping on top of any kind of warm filling because it will melt the topping)

To make the whipped cream topping, combine the whipping cream, honey, stevia, vanilla and salt in a large metal bowl and use a hand mixer to whip until the desired thickness, stopping mid way to scrape down the sides
Top the cooled pie with this deliciousness and then roughly chop the peanuts and chocolate chips to sprinkle on top or onto each slice as you eat it

Friday, August 8, 2014

It's Okay if It's Easy

It's Okay Print - Wall Decor - Inspirational Print - Typography - Black and White - Motivational Print
Print from lulusimonSTUDIO on Etsy

During my teaching years, I've worked summer and part time jobs that were always different from teaching. I needed a little extra money, I wanted a break from the same job and I wanted to explore other things that I was interested in.
A few years ago while working at a paper store I met a really cool friend. Hi J! She was one of those people who I liked immediately, we hit it off and talked about important things and big ideas from pretty early on and I was so happy to work my shifts with her. She ended up moving home not too long after our stint together there. She's traveled and we haven't seen each other since even though we've been in touch here and there.
Looking back I really value what we had and I love meeting people like her. Funny, smart, creative, open-minded, self-reflective. This was years ago and I was still struggling with not being fulfilled with teaching, wanting to do creative things and not knowing what to do for sure. She and I talked a lot, bounced ideas off of each other, and opened up about what we wanted. One of the things that stuck with me was a piece of advice she'd been given,
 "Its okay if it's easy".

I come back to this notion often because I think it gets to the core of following your dreams, being successful and also being afraid. Here's what I think it means.

Why should things be hard? There's a sort of pressure that if it's worth it you must struggle and sacrifice. I think you still need to work hard, but if it's for something you want and love then it's more enjoyable and the work seems easier- right?

What you want is in front of you, you just have to take it.
Sometimes we make things so difficult and complicated. I think first we have to sit down and take the time to figure out what we want and what we're good at, but then after that the answers are just there for the taking.

Use what you have, what's available and start small.
Again with the making things too complicated. If you want to paint and sell prints but you don't have a nice printer or space to paint, then there's probably another place for you to start. You may be good at a lot of things, but there are somethings that you already do and that you already have that will work for you and that you'll enjoy.

For me I want to run a gluten free bakery that's more low-key and stylish, and I'm realizing that I want to start small from the ground up. The easy way right now is to keep up with the blog, continue to bake and photograph and go from there. I'm not totally sure of the next steps but I know that they all require more materials, space and money than I have right now. So if "it's okay if it's easy" then right now I'm doing fine. I'm where I'm supposed to be and I think when I'm ready, the next steps will come along. And I have to say, it feels really good to think that way. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Peaches & "Brown Sugar" Cream Pie

Let's go with rustic, summery and decadent for a description of this pie. I used the crust from my Deep Dish Apple Streusel Pie and made just a few changes, I also pressed it into the pie dish instead of rolling it out. The cream filling is my Cream Cheese topping that I use on my Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies  and my Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins to which I added coconut palm sugar as the "brown sugar" which has a rich, caramel flavor. Peaches were from the farmer's market and I let them get super ripe, they were so good. Then I sprinkled a little more palm sugar on top of everything because, well why not. We ate this plain and also heated up a little bit with peach frozen custard from The Dairy Godmother- an institution over here in Del Ray, Alexandria.

How's your summer going? I can't believe it's August! The weather has been so wonderful here. Cool mornings and evenings and not too hot during the day time. We've been walking Clover somewhere woodsy or near the water every evening and we've all been loving it. I'm taking classes for work and trying to really purge and tidy up the house. So getting out and relaxing in trees or the breeze has felt so good. Just 20 minutes to get out of my head a little bit, it's amazing how much that helps.

I hope you like the pie, let me know if you try it!

Peaches & "Brown Sugar" Cream Pie
serves 6-8
Sweet Crust
2 C blanched almond flour
1/2 C starch (tapioca, potato or arrowroot)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 C butter melted
1/2 C honey
1 tsp almond extract (it's not a strong flavor, this is optional, you could also use vanilla)

"Brown Sugar" Cream Cheese Filling and Peach Topping 
1 8 oz. bar of cream cheese softened
1/4 C honey
2 T butter
2 T + 1 T reserved coconut palm sugar
3 peeled and sliced peaches

Preheat the oven to 350 and butter a glass pie dish
Mix the crust by blending the blanched almond flour, starch, salt and baking soda. Then add in the butter, honey and almond extract
Press into the pie dish from the center out, then up the edges and finally pressing down on the tops of the edges, poke the crust a few times with a fork
Pre-bake the pie crust for 20 minutes and remove from the oven
Fill with the "Brown Sugar" Cream Cheese Filling and top with the peeled peach slices
Sprinkle with the reserved 1 T of palm sugar
Return to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until the cream cheese has set, the peaches are glistening and the top crust is not too brown
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving
You can also let cool and then chill in the fridge to help the pie set even more (but then of course it will be chilled and not warm or room temp)

Friday, July 25, 2014


I'm cleaning out guys. Like majorly cleaning out. I've gone through every room, every closet, every nook where I've stuffed something and things are going fast. I took a bunch of vintage stuff to a local consignment shop, craigslisted like a pro and made a few trips to goodwill. We only have two bedrooms and the second is our office, art studio and soon to be completed nursery all in one! So it's been really important to get rid of a lot of my materials that I don't really use and to pair down to the essentials. Etsy paintings are on sale! I'm making room for new inventory, animals that I've been working on in the same simple and graphic style. They're coming along slowly as I have time to work on them, but they're very special and it makes me happy to make them.

You can shop at
All paintings are acrylic on 10x10" canvas with a 1.5" profile. They're ready and easy to hang on just a nail in the wall.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Who I Am, and Who I Want to Become

I'm back from a Pacific NW vacation and on summer break from teaching. I'm 32, pregnant with our first baby, and in the last few years I've been trying to realize what I really want to do with my life and so I got serious and decided to make an actual decision. I'm writing today on who I am and who I want to become.

I wanted to be honest with myself and not settle on how I spend my days, what I can do everyday that is creative and handmade, and that I would love and be proud of. So after a ton of writing, thinking and "what if" scenarios, I decided on a gluten free bakery with an almond flour and natural sugars focus. I had to let go of my other ideas, even though they're good ideas, so that I could focus my time, money and energy on this blog and future bakery so it actually happens and can be successful.

What I didn't realize would happen is that making that decision has lead to this awesome focus, openness and clarity. Space for all of these other things in my life has come to the surface and I feel like I'm a little more centered and aware of who I really am and who I want to be.

From when I was a little girl, there were some things about me that just came naturally. I was so sure about them it was never even a thought that they weren't right for me. It turns out those things still apply today. I still love animals and am so happy that we adopted Clover. I love knowing about all sorts of things and I've learned that I do better with more information as opposed to keeping my head in the dark. I still love the mountains and want a country house one day, but I also love the beach and the little trails near our house. I'm still nice and friendly, but I've learned to also be assertive and trust my instincts. And I still value and want to live a life full of creativity, hand made goodness and variety.

As for who I want to become, I just love thinking about that as an option for your life. To me it means coming back to the basics of who you are and what you love and then making your life work for you. I don't want to shy away from life's very real responsibilities, and I want to be happy, fulfilled and grow as a person. I want to look back on these years of my twenties and thirties when I was a teacher, bought a house, adopted an amazing dog and had a baby and feel that I used them well. So who I want to become is a little unknown, but I do know that it starts with coming back to the basics of who I've been and who I am.

So now I'll be working on sprucing up the blog, learning how to start a bakery (even if it's out of a rental kitchen and a farmer's market stand), letting go of other interests and projects for a while, and thinking more about doing things that are right for me.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Grain Free Brownie Collection (Obsession)

I love brownies and so does my Dad. They're so chocolatey, but different from a slice of cake or chocolate sauce on a sundae. They're rich and velvety, filling without being too sugary. They're just so good! Out of all of these that I've made, my favorites are the simple ones. Classic Brownies with a hint of espresso, and Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies because the slight tartness of the cream cheese pairs really well with the rich chocolate base. Give me a simple brownie and I'll find ways to eat it five times a day.

Chris and I are back from our Pacific NW vacation. I'm still posting pics from our trip on Instagram and I'll have some posts about traveling gluten free in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver in the next few weeks. We made some good habits over our trip of being out of the house and walking around for most of the day, drinking a green juice most days, eating smaller meals and not watching too much T.V. So we've talked about trying to keep up those habits this summer and we're doing pretty well so far!

Monday, July 7, 2014

My Rules for Summer

Chris on our roof
 Girls trip to Asheville, NC (post coming soon)
Clover Dog on a summer walk, which really means just lay in the grass 
All pics from my Instagram

Chris and I are on vacation in Portland and Seattle; and today we're driving to Vancouver! We've been loving it. You can see more pics over on my Instagram  and I'll be back in a few days. Happy Summer!

My Rules for Summer

1. Wake up early and enjoy the morning

2. Shower and get ready for the day before 9:30, and wear a bra

3. Drink fun iced drinks- like peach water, mint iced tea, and iced herbal teas with honey

4. Clean and organize the house

5. Leave the house and do stuff

6. Take a siesta

7. Go on vacation/weekend trips/day trips and be inspired

8. Only read books I love, and re-read books I love

9. Do something in the evenings and summer nights

10. Remember that around us in Virginia the humidity kind of sucks and to wear less clothing, wear my hair up, drink cold drinks and move slower

What are yours?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Grain Free Berry Recipes for the Fourth of July

We're off to Portland and Seattle for our summer vacation/baby moon! We'll be staying with family friends the first two nights, and then we haven't booked any hotels or travel for the rest of the trip! Travel with iphones changes everything. I looked up airbnb options in Portland and got really excited for tiny houses, vintage trailers and canvas tents.

For this vacation I plan on trying as many gluten free bakeries as I can, visiting breweries and watching Chris drink beer, eating my fill of raw oysters and seafood and finding some really awesome healthy eateries and cute shops. Mainly food and shopping. We're planning on staying in the cities for the majority of the trip but we'll definitely be making a couple trips out into the wilderness to see mountains, greenery and ferns.

I've put together a collection of some of my favorite new recipes to help you celebrate the 4th. They're all gluten free, all grain free, a couple have vegan options and a couple use real sugar in the toppings. They're delicious. Have a great holiday weekend!

Icebox Pie with Creamy Lime Filling and Berry Medley

Strawberry Lemon Curd Cupcakes

Vegan Peach and Blueberry Cobbler with Cinnamon Coconut Sorbet

Flourless Chocolate Cakes with Strawberry Whipped Cream

Chocolate Raspberry Crumble Bars (on a chocolate crust and with a vegan option)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Cardamom Bundt Cake with Lime Coconut Butter

Happy summer guys! It sort of snuck up on me. I love living in Virginia because of the seasons. The transitions remind me to get back to myself every few months, clean up, get rid of extra stuff and be inspired. But recently with the end of school and an extended year due to extra snow days, summer just rolled on in and I was busy busy. We're taking a vacation in a couple of days and I'm so looking forward to that time to get away from all of the little to-dos, get some perspective again and just enjoy time with Chris in new cities. 

This Cardamom Bundt Cake is a refined version of my Cardamom Cake. I made just a few changes and I'm really happy with the updated cake. It's sweet, moist, has those delicious browned buttery edges and isn't overly spiced. I think it would be so good with a vanilla glaze, a ginger ice cream, maybe even a chocolate cardamom frosting. 

This cake from Roost is gorgeous and has the coconut butter drizzle topping I was aiming for. I heated the coconut butter (a spreadable puree of the coconut flesh) over a makeshift double boiler and it melted perfectly. However the moment I added the 3 T of honey, it all seized up back into a thick spread. Then I ran out of coconut butter. So for this post we have a cake topped with lime coconut butter. Tastiest at room temp as the topping gets a lot harder in the fridge. I'll try the coconut butter glaze again, but my problem was I didn't think it was sweet enough. The recipes I found called for only 1 T of honey and for me that just wasn't enough. So maybe I try agave, or stevia? Not sure- anyone out there tried it sweeter and found success? 

Cardamom Bundt Cake with Lime Coconut Butter
serves 12

Cardamom Bundt Cake
1/2 C (1 stick) butter
1/2 C yogurt
3/4 C honey
1/2 C maple sugar granules
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 C blanched almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Lime Coconut Butter
1 C coconut butter
3 T honey
zest of 2 limes

Preheat the oven to 350 and butter a bundt cake pan, place on a baking sheet
First make the cake by mixing the yogurt, honey, eggs, vanilla and cooled melted butter
In a separate bowl mix the blanched almond flour, baking soda, salt, spices and maple sugar granules
Blend the wet into the dry until fully combined then pour into the buttered bundt cake pan
Bake around 50 minutes until the cake is browned, the top is not jiggly and the sides pull slightly away from the edges of the pan
Remove from the oven and let cool completely- 30 minutes to an hour before loosening the edges, gently shaking up and down to make sure the whole cake pulls away from the pan, then flipping over on to a serving plate.
To make the lime coconut butter, gently heat the coconut butter on the stove top over a double boiler and add the honey and lime zest
Mix well to combine and let cool to room temperature
Top the cake with the mixture and then form it with clean hands around the top of the cake

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Time for Change

Stella Maria Baer from Design*Sponge

I like change. I think it's good, I think it's healthy and I think it keeps life interesting. I very much like the comforts of home, I'm definitely a homebody. But I want to live in different homes and places, try new things and new foods, find new neighborhoods and shops. I don't ever want to get so comfortable and settled that I don't challenge myself to grow and try new things. Over the years I've realized that Chris, my husband, started a sort of informal life mantra which I have adopted: "don't go backwards". We use this way of thinking in big ways, like when we bought our house and in small ways, like when we're out on country drives.

At the time we were house shopping, we were renting a condo in South Arlington and had an opportunity to buy the exact same version in another building. I wasn't sure about it though and my friend ended up saying exactly what I needed to hear, "why would you want to do the exact same thing!?" and she was right. We had rented that condo for 3 years and loved it and the neighborhood. We wanted to stay in that area and were sad when we realized we wouldn't be able to. Trusting that there was more out there for us made it easier to move on and eventually we found our current home. A 1200 sq foot row house built in 1942. It's not in our first choice neighborhood, it's small and it's old. But there are positives too. It has a finished basement with a full bathroom and an exterior door so we can have guests with out a problem. We've heard we may be able to build a top level, we could definitely build an addition on the back, and we have a parking pad and long back yard where we could build a garage or a studio. We have room for a deck, a patio, and a small garden. All things not possible in a condo with no yard or lot and with condo fees. For us, buying this house was a really good move.

In small ways we "don't go backwards" by literally not turning around, we just move forward or take a new route. Chris and I like to take drives on the weekends with our dog, Clover. It's something we started doing because it's cheap, Chris likes to drive, I like to get out of town and see other little small towns, and then we usually find a park or trail to walk Clover. So when we're out exploring we just keep walking or keep driving. We don't just rely on the google directions or the main street we just walked down. This little way of thinking has helped me be a little braver when it comes to new places and new situations.

Right now this applies to two big things in our life. We're having a baby, due in October, and god knows we'll have to let go of a lot of our old way of life! Hopefully we'll manage dealing with all these new things, moving forward and not dwelling on old comforts we can no longer have with a new baby. And next year I hope to start a gluten free bakery which means I'll eventually have to leave teaching elementary art. I know it's what I want and that leaving a career that I'm comfortable with to pursue something new and full of challenges and unknowns is the step I have to take.

So here are some links that have really got me thinking:

Find out who you are, but also who you should become from Braid Creative
Be Who You are & Explore Who You are Becoming

"When we take a leap, change our course and direction, something is lost and something is gained... We may lose our comfort zone and gain some new mastery." I hadn't really thought of this before even though reading it seems obvious. You have to be okay with letting go and moving on, knowing that the next step is right for you, change is good and you will grow even though you will lose some things. 
When Do I Leap? A post on Justina Blakeney's blog with questions for her mom, Dr. Bubbie.

This article by Lydia Netzer, 15 Ways to Stay Married for 15 Years- I like the whole article, but read number 9.

A post about Style and The Evolution of your Voice on MerMagBlog

Follow Your Heart, Smell The Roses on LuneBlog

Secret to Work Life Balance on Sycamore Street Press

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

It's My Birthday!

(Our family's go-to birthday cake)

How timely that I just read this post on DesignMom and I feel the same way! She just turned 40, I'm 32 now, but I get the pressure and hype around a birthday. So for this year I just listened to myself and realized that I didn't want to plan anything for my birthday. On my actual birthday I want to go to dinner with Chris and last Saturday I went to a vineyard and stayed over with my college roommates/soul mates. I didn't want to plan another thing on a summer weekend (they always get so filled!) I just want to relax and be free to do whatever comes up.

My birthday always falls at the end of the school year so I say it's the best birthday present. But the flip side is the end of the school year is always super stressful, crazy and busy. I always tidy up the art and storage room at work, order supplies in bulk for the fall and try to finish personal to-dos as well so that when the last day of school hits I feel like I'm really on vacation. This year I added getting lessons prepped and ready for the fall and organizing lessons for all of next school year because I'll be hugely pregnant when I return in the fall; and then I'll be out on maternity leave for the middle of the school year. I think I've mentioned this before- that I never thought of myself as a planner or go-getter but I'm definitely turning into that, it turns out I'm good at it, and I like it!

So even though it added more work to the end of the year crazy, I started early and it allowed me to really get grounded for next school year and not worry about the work aspect. We'll have a new baby and that's a whole new project to learn and worry about, so having other things settled feels really great.
We're going on vacation July 1- which is basically like a huge birthday present. And I wanted to do something for myself but I didn't want it to be centered only around material goods (like my typical new shoes/bag/anthro purchases).

So this week I decided to do something small and nice for myself everyday. A little treat that I wouldn't
normally indulge in, but not something so big that I felt stressed about spending the money.

Sunday- I used my store credit at Current Boutique, a local consignment store and bought a cute little summer dress that fits over my belly!

Monday- Starbucks stop on the way to work for a decaf iced vanilla latte (my favorite) and two expensive fruit drinks (used my gift card)

Tuesday- a few new maternity tees from Old Navy

Wednesday- (my actual birthday!) Today may have to be another iced latte day...and then Chris has surprise dinner plans for us

Thursday- Pedicure

Friday- I think I'll buy a new album on itunes

Saturday- I want a new body scrub or lotion, something fresh for summer

Happy Birthday June babies!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Cakes with Strawberry Whipped Cream

I love when I end up making a new recipe out of mistakes and what I have left in the fridge. I was trying to make my Brownies  but I didn't have enough chocolate, butter or honey. So I reduced all of those ingredients and ended up making a yummy chocolate cake. The ingredient proportions are different, and the use of bakers chocolate squares as opposed to cocoa made for a different tasting cake from my Perfect Chocolate Cake. I was really pleased with. Dare I say, I like it more!

The Strawberry Whipped Cream is about the perfect thing I've ever eaten. Simple, light but decadent with fresh, in season strawberries that taste aaaaamazing. I used real sugar (organic, fair trade, lightly processed in a compostable bag no less) because whipped creams made with honey don't set up as well or last very long. I brought these to a bbq on a hot day and didn't want them to be soggy messes when I arrived. But I know that a lot of people who follow this blog are all about the sugar and dairy free (which I mostly am!) So here are some other great toppings you may like:

Strawberry Frosting from The Urban Poser using palm shortening, arrowroot powder and coconut flour
Clementine Orange Frosting from The Spunky Coconut using clementine peel, cashews and coconut oil
Simple Meringue Frosting from Health, Home, & Happiness using honey and egg whites
Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes from Against All Grain using honey, egg whites and strawberry preserves
Coconut Whipped Cream from Oh She Glows with a tutorial

Flourless Chocolate Cakes with Strawberry Whipped Cream
makes 20

Flourless Chocolate Cakes
3 squares bakers chocolate
1/2 C (1 stick) butter
1/2 C honey (you could certainly use more if this is not sweet enough)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 C blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Strawberry Whipped Cream
1 pint (2 C) whipping cream
2/3 C sugar
1/2 C pureed strawberries (about 4 strawberries)

Preheat the oven to 350 and line two muffin trays with paper liners
First make the flourless chocolate cakes by combining the chocolate, butter and honey and either heating over low-heat on the stove stirring constantly, or in a microwave safe bowl in 15 second increments, stirring in between.
Let the chocolate mixture cool and add the eggs and vanilla, whisking until smooth
Add the blanched almond flour, salt and baking soda and mix to combine
Use a mini ice cream scoop and scoop twice into each paper liner (this makes 20 cakes and also makes the perfect height for a cupcake with a flat top)
Bake around 18 minutes until the tops look dry, are slightly firm to the touch but not burnt. Don't burn chocolate!
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before topping with the strawberry whipped cream or until you're ready to serve the cakes

To make the strawberry whipped cream first puree about 4 medium clean and ripe strawberries in a food processor. Wipe down the sides and puree again until they become a smooth red pulp
Measure to make sure they make 1/2 C puree and if not, puree another strawberry
Use a large metal bowl (it's even better if it's been chilled in the fridge) and add the pint of chilled whipping cream
Beat a few minutes with an electric hand mixer until the cream is becoming whipped cream consistency and wipe down the sides
Add the sugar and strawberry puree, beat a little, wipe down the sides, and beat once again until combined and thick enough to pipe though a bag
Open a large ziploc or frosting piping bag and fold down the top then scoop the topping into the bag
Cut off a small piece of the corner and pipe a little onto a plate, cut the opening larger if needed and then pipe the topping onto the cakes by swirling from the center out and then back around again
Serve these fresh or if refrigerated let them thaw 20 or so minutes to room temperature before serving
They should keep about a week in the fridge with the topping

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Yay! We're Having a Baby! Boy!

Our little baby is due at the end of October and we found out last week that it's a BOY! I wanted a girl because I'm pretty girly and calm myself, and I really wanted to buy cute dresses and bonnets and play tea party. Boys play with weapons, and get dirty, cause a ruckus and smell. But you know of course I feel so so so happy, excited and lucky to grow a little baby and to be the mother of a boy. I love the kids I teach at school and I've known them now for a few years. Seeing them grow, watching how they treat other students, and listening to how they talk with their friends has been amazing. Kids are so cute and awesome and I'll be so lucky if our child turns out anything like the kids I've known.

As for pregnancy, I'm feeling pretty even keeled and normal about it all. I don't have a lot of uncomfortable symptoms, my belly's still pretty small,  I don't feel all wacked out from hormones (yet). We'll see, of course, how I feel in the fall when I'm huge, wearing TOMS and leggings everyday and starting out the craziness of a new school year. I have started to feel him move (it's also really fun to say "him" instead of "it") and that has been pretty great.

For me, I've always wanted to have a baby and be pregnant. I think pregnancy is so amazing and weird. That a woman's body grows this tiny little thing into a real baby and then accommodates to push it out.  So crazy! I'm trying to drink enough water, get enough sleep, take a lot of walks, cuddle up with my dog, and be calm and peaceful with this thing I'm growing and generally just experience and appreciate my first pregnancy with my first baby for what it is.

Some cute and ridiculous things kids have said at school:

"Is it a girl, is it a boy, is it both!?"

They hug me goodbye and then say, "by baby". Everyday.

"Can I rub your belly?"

"I have a baby!" (meaning their younger siblings of course)

"Um, your belly's getting big, you look like you're having a baby."

And from the 5th graders, "We kind of figured. No offense but you're kind of getting bigger."

A whole Kindergarten class erupted in applause when I told them I was pregnant.

"Is it twins? My sister and I were in my Mom's belly!" (from a set of twins)

"But where is the baby?"

"The baby's really small and then it gets bigger, and then it comes out. And then your belly's still kind of big. My mom's still trying to make her belly smaller."

From a more advanced 5th grader, "Yeah...I know how the baby comes out."

I said I was really hungry and a 4th grader said, "You ate your baby!"

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dairy Free Cinnamon Swirl Muffins (made with coconut oil and blanched almond flour)

I took a break from muffins for a bit. I was eating a lot of them and really, they're just basically little cakes. I'm back on though because they're a great nutrient dense snack and good for travel or to bring to work. I can get really hungry and gluten free pretzels, grapes or carrot sticks just DO NOT cut it some times. So I've been trying to eat muffins that have a little less sweetener and a little less fat. Sometimes the recipes I make just taste too dense or too greasy, and there's still good fats from the almond flour. So I've been using half the fat and adding water and it actually improves the batter and makes it fluffier and lighter!

You can find the first version of my Dairy Free Cinnamon Swirl Muffins here. Made with coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut flour and walnuts. For this second version I kept it a little simpler with coconut oil to keep it dairy free and just used blanched almond flour as the base. No coconut milk or coconut flour in the batter this time and no walnuts in the cinnamon swirl. There's a little less honey so they're not quite as sweet, and I used half the cinnamon which you could just double if you want a stronger flavor.

You may also like
The Best Almond Flour Cinnamon Roll Biscuits at Urban Poser

George and Juli’s Paleo Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread at Tasty-Yummies

Dairy Free Cinnamon Swirl Muffins (made with coconut oil and blanched almond flour)
makes 12

Muffin Batter
2 eggs
1/4 C melted coconut oil
1/4 C water
1/3 C honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 C blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Cinnamon Swirl Topping
1/4 C melted coconut oil
1/4 C honey
1 T cinnamon
2 T blanched almond flour

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with paper liners
First make the batter and whisk together the eggs, cooled melted coconut oil, water, honey and vanilla
Mix in the blanched almond flour, salt and baking soda
Use an ice cream scoop to fill the muffin tin
Next make the Cinnamon Swirl Topping by mixing the melted coconut oil, honey, cinnamon and blanched almond flour
Spoon the topping on top of each muffin then use a toothpick or the tip of a sharp knife to swirl the topping into the muffins
Bake 15-18 minutes and let cool a few minutes before eating or the sugary topping will be a little too hot and sticky and more of the muffin will stick to the paper liner

Monday, May 26, 2014

Spring Time Thoughts

Spring mornings where I wake up naturally sometimes at 5:30 and spring evenings where it's 8:30 and there's still some light in the sky. These are the times when I so badly want to be in a small, simple cabin in the woods or a little house in a small town where I don't hear cars or planes all day when my windows are open and there's a lot more green and old buildings than there is sidewalk, asphalt and brand new homes. 

But I don't live in the country, and I won't buy a country house/land/trailer any time soon. So I purposefully focus on the things I like about this area, my neighborhood and our little house right now. I love waking up early, having tea in our office with the window cracked and looking out at the giant tree out back every few minutes. I love that I know a lot of our neighbors and I can walk barefoot down our crooked sidewalk and sit on their lawn with them, talking about babies and dogs. I love that even though I wanted to move away after College to somewhere new and instead I came back home, this area is a great place to come back to. There are all kinds of people, all kinds of food and the ocean, the mountains and different little towns and bigger cities are just a drive away. 

From A Well Traveled Woman

When you are washing the dishes, washing the dishes must be the most important thing in your life. Just as when you are drinking tea, drinking tea must be the most important thing in your life. Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the whole world revolves—slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.

- Thich Nhat Hanh

It's almost time for Breaded & Fried Yellow Squash and I'm reading Nightwoods by Charles Frazier again.

never say “she works for me.” always remember that nobody works for you. they work for the job and for themselves and for a million reasons, maaaaybe if you are super awesome you are a tiny reason. but it’s always more accurate to say “we work together.”