Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Grain Free Carrot Cake with Classic Cream Cheese Frosting





I've been thinking a lot about starting my gluten free bakery. Key word thinking and also talking my husband's head off with the same thoughts every couple of weeks like they're new ideas. Recently I've been stuck on the things I don't know about or that seem overwhelming- taxes, paying employees, paying rent on a space, getting a lawyer, you know- real big business stuff. But as my good at focusing husband said, none of that matters if I'm not actually making a product and selling it. Which, by the way, I've read a bunch of times in crafty business books and in Etsy seller interviews. It's good advice that seems pretty obvious. I just need to start making food and selling it.

The good thing is I'm stuck on those unknowns of the bakery because I feel pretty settled and confident about the other stuff. I can envision the style of the bakery, the logo and branding, the packaging and types of coffee and tea, the color of the walls and window decorations, the cake stands I'd display my muffins on, and of course all of the baked goods I'd offer. I feel good and confident about my style of baking. That it begins with nutritious ingredients that also taste really great and that sometimes I use real sugar for frostings because there's just no other substitute for the real thing.

Like this recipe. I just had to have real cream cheese frosting with carrot cake guys. For a sugar free option you could try my Cream Cheese Topping made with honey or you could skip the cream cheese idea and try a Merengue topping made with honey like this one from Health Home Happy- the only downside is that in my experience merengue has to be eaten immediately and does not keep well in the fridge. This carrot cake recipe also includes the traditional walnuts and raisins, but you could certainly leave out one or the other and I think next time I'll chop the walnuts much smaller.

Grain Free Carrot Cake with Classic Cream Cheese Frosting
serves 8-10

Grain Free Carrot Cake
2 1/2 C blanched almond flour
1 1/2 C shredded carrot (from 3 medium carrots)
1/2 C honey (or you could use 3/4 C honey and omit the stevia)
20 drops liquid stevia
1/2 C raisins
1/2 C walnuts
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 C melted butter (or coconut oil)
1 T cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla

Classic Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8oz. bar of softened cream cheese
1/2 C (1 stick) butter softened
1 tsp vanilla
4 C (1 lb. bag) of powdered sugar
1/4 C water (if needed)


Preheat the oven to 350
Grease a round spring form pan and lay down an 8" parchment circle
Make the cake batter by whisking the eggs, cooled melted butter, honey, stevia, and vanilla
Mix in the shredded carrot and raisins (I like to let the raisins soak a little while)
In a separate bowl mix the blanched almond flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and walnuts
Mix the wet into the dry until well blended and then pour into the prepared cake pan
Bake 55-60 minutes until the edges are browned and the top is not too jiggly
Remove from the oven and let cool
To remove from the spring form pan, use a small offset spatula or thin knife to loosen the edges, pop open the pan and have two plates ready
Lay a plate on top of the cake, turn upside down and carefully peel away the bottom of the pan and the parchment circle
Then turn the cake onto your other plate or cake stand to frost and serve
Make sure the cake is completely cooled before topping with the Cream Cheese Frosting

To make the Frosting,
Make sure the cream cheese and butter are softened to room temperature
Add the cream cheese, butter and vanilla in a large bowl and combine with a hand mixer
Add 1 C of the powdered sugar and mix, scrape down the sides
Repeat until all of the powdered sugar is added and the frosting is completely mixed
Add the 1/4 C of water in small amounts to thin out the frosting at the last step of mixing, it can get pretty thick

This will make extra frosting and you can frost just the top of the cake or be bold and slice the cake in half with a thin bread knife to frost in the middle as well. Fair warning though, because of the walnuts and raisins I did not get a smooth cut and created lots of crumbs and chunks of cake falling off!
When covered this cake lasts a while in the fridge.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What Scares Me (and Other Things)



So much gray hair

stretch marks

my dog dying

my husband dying

my lady parts after giving birth

taxes, payroll, legal food issues, paying rent and then paying our mortgage (when I open a gf bakery)

ebola

cancer

losing my computer pictures


What doesn't scare me

little kids

pregnancy

baking and cooking

making yummy food for my gf bakery

most animals


What I don't Care About

blowdrying my hair

folding fitted sheets

dust

a big house or a big car

dressing professionally

smelly lotions



What I'd like more of

tattoos

dainty rings

comfy cute shoes

hikes and country drives

green juices

open windows

good reads






Thursday, September 4, 2014

Welcome September



I've been reading Rebecca Egbert's blog lately.

I found it through andKathleen from BraidCreative and I like it because it's a mothering blog that's not all homemade lunches and back to school outfits (even though those are cute too!). Plus, she's a bad ass. Our baby will be coming this season and I wanted to find sources that offered support and strength, and I've found it with Rebecca Egbert. Most recently I read her post Begin Again and it was exactly what I needed. A little push to start anew with the end of summer, the last stretches of my pregnancy and the beginning of my (tenth!) school year.

She read reports on the new moon in September and says, 

"The reports told me that it was a time of new beginnings, and acknowledging endings that no longer help or serve you. It was time to let the things die that need to die off, and birth the new.

Makes sense with the “back to school” energy all around, harvests happening whether in the backyard or in large fields. It’s September and it is time for rejuvenation. A time to slow down. A time to regroup and set some intentions for the completion of 2014, because anything you put into place right now and start moving forward will set the tone for what’s to come."

I'm interested in  new moons and moon cycles, but I know nothing more about them than just skimming the surface. I read Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier this summer and I like the idea of living a life more in tune with the cycles of nature. So this idea of new beginnings, acknowledging endings that don't help you, letting go of some things; and getting excited and working for other things- this has really hit home. 

This summer I ended up spending most of my time finishing house projects. Our home is in really good shape but there were projects that were looming over our heads. I wanted to use this time of energy and excitement to get things settled the way we like before the baby comes. I know we'll still have time here and there to do stuff, but I wanted to do the things we could now so that our house looks good and feels comfortable. 

I had hoped I would do more baking and blogging of recipes and posts, but it takes a lot more time than I planned for. It was good to realize just how little I did and how if it's something I want to pursue, which it is, I need to carve out time to bake, photograph and write in the way that I want.  

What ended up sitting on the back burner was painting for my Etsy shop. I just didn't have time to fit it in and I wasn't even that inspired. I'm not giving up on painting, but I need fewer thing to focus on for a while I get myself centered, start the new school year and prepare for the baby.

I'm letting the things that are fading anyway fade, I'm preparing for new beginnings in a way that makes me comfortable and I'm thinking of what I really want so that when opportunities come I'll feel ready. I'm also feeling really happy with where things stand right now in life and in work. I've worked hard for them, organized and prepped and now things are running pretty smoothly.

So here are my intentions for the completion of 2014:

- set up baby things in the house 
- finish decorating and house projects
- prepare and educate myself on a happy birth and caring for a newborn
- rest, eat snacks and healthy meals
- keep baking and blogging
- teach with this quote in mind, "Teach with passion but manage with compassion."
- trust that the things I want and work for will happen
- and towards the end of Fall we'll have a baby (!) so I don't have any plans after that except to nest and nurture myself, the baby, my husband and our dog. I'll be going back to work in the new year and I don't want to fill this new, special, irreplaceable time with lots of expectations, to-do lists and projects. 




Saturday, August 30, 2014

Grain Free Zucchini Bread





I tend to think of zucchini bread as a fall recipe because of the spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. But zucchinis are in season from Spring until early Fall here, so really this bread can fit into so many months. I love the little ribbons of green running through the loaf, and I love the mild flavor and sweetness.

The weather is turning here. It's still hot during the day, but cooler in the mornings and evenings. The cicadas are going nuts and it's getting dark just a little earlier. I love this time of year because school has started and I'm back at work. The excitement and pressure of doing lots of summer activities dwindles as I'm busier during the day and need more quiet and relaxing time when I'm home. My husband and I walk our dog Clover together most nights and it's such a sweet, lovely time together. No matter what I'm feeling when we leave the house, my head always clears and I feel so calm and like myself once we're back at the house. Our baby is due in about two months now- it seems so close! And I love the image of carrying him in a sling all bundled up while we go on the same walks in late Fall and early Winter.

This recipe makes four mini loaves, I use this Wilton 4 Cavity Mini Loaf Pan, but you could also bake it as one loaf like my Banana Bread, using the trick of lining the loaf pan both ways with parchment paper.  I used butter this time, but you could also substitute coconut oil, or try 1/4 oil and 1/4 water. I ate it sliced and plain, and at breakfast we've been eating it toasted with butter and a sprinkle of coconut palm sugar. We have one little piece left before it's all gone and I'm going to make a new batch as soon as I can!

Grain Free Zucchini Bread
makes 4 mini  loaves

3 C blanched almond flour
1 T cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/2 C butter melted
1/2 C honey
2 tsp vanilla
2 C shredded zucchini (from 1 large zucchini and measured before the water is pressed out)

Preheat the oven to 350
Grease a mini loaf pan (or line a large loaf pan with parchment paper)
First grate the zucchini and wrap in a couple layers of paper towel or cheese cloth to squeeze out the excess water
Then whisk the eggs, honey, vanilla and cooled melted butter together
In a separate bowl mix the blanched almond flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt
Next blend the wet into the dry and mix well
Add the shredded and pressed zucchini and stir to combine
Pour into the loaf pans and bake 35-40 minutes until the top is not too jiggly and the edges are not burned
Remove from the oven and let cool before loosening the edges with a knife and removing the mini loaves





Saturday, August 23, 2014

Shared Office and Art Studio



I wanted to share a little tour of our second bedroom- a shared office and art studio. Soon it will include a nursery and I'll be sure to take pictures of that cute little space too! We live in a tall and small 1200 square feet old brick rowhouse. The top two levels where we spend most of our time add up to only 800 square feet! 


The futon is from Overstock, and the shelves and tall shelf are from Ikea. The work table was made by my grandfather from reclaimed barn wood and we removed the two leaves so it's easier to sit at. I found that great work lamp at goodwill and all it needed was a tightened screw and the white chair is thrifted from my parent's house. The posters are printed for cheap from an old OhHappyDay post and I sewed the curtains from some creamy fabric leftover from my grandparent's and then added mini black pom pom trim. 




The filing cabinet, small island and mini drawers are all Ikea found on Craigslist or at Goodwill and the owl print is from Gingiber on Etsy. On our office side we had to really scale down and keep things organized so we got a smaller desk from Target and try to keep the top pretty clean. I have some of my paintings up on the wall and a few inspirational quotes up on the corkboard. The black desk lamp is from our old family farm and the fabric wall hanging is from NewHouseProject on Etsy.


I had to think hard about what I wanted to keep in this space and so I ended up getting rid of a ton of art supplies. Now the space is used for blogging, painting and sewing and my husband can use the work table too when he wants to spread out. It was sort of hard and sad to get rid of so many materials and project ideas, but I tend to work better when I have a little more structure and limitations, so for now I feel okay about what's left in the room!


Even though it's small I love how we found the right furniture pieces that fit the room and help with storage and work space. It's easy to get carried away when decorating the house or designing a space and just spend tons of money on things. So it's been fun to make things work, find items for cheap and then still enjoy the space. I love coming up here in the mornings with my tea and reading my favorite blogs, opening the window and looking out at our massive tree in the back yard. 

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

SALE! SALE! SALE!

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. Soooo...my 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 Tumblewild.etsy.com.
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